New body camera videos show Richmond police response to tear gassing of protesters in 2020 | WJHL
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Newly released body camera videos shed light on the Richmond Police Department’s response to protests centered around two Confederate monuments in June 2020, when protesters were gassed without warning.
The city has agreed to share a trove of documents with the Library of Virginia regarding June 1, 2020, tear gas around the former Robert E. Lee Monument and former JEB Stuart Monument as part of a settlement of federal trial with protesters.
The documents include body camera footage of responding officers, audio recordings, aerial surveillance and other documents.
Videos obtained and reviewed by 8News on Friday July 22 show the moments before tear gas was deployed without warning on a large crowd of protesters around Lee’s statue on June 1, 2020: agents using chemical irritants on people relatives, authorities facing protesters, officers questioning orders given to them and more.
In one of the videos reviewed by 8News, several officers in a vehicle can be heard criticizing the decision to engage with protesters near the Stuart statue.
Police were heard having the following exchange in the video above:
- “We never should have done this to begin with,” one officer said.
- “No, I don’t know why we hire these people,” an officer replies.
- “I don’t think they ever gave any warnings or anything,” another officer replies.
- “I mean, who cares,” an officer replies.
Moments later, one of the officers in the vehicle began talking about a protester outside. “And that guy in that pink sweatshirt right there, he and I are going to meet again someday,” the officer told the others in the car.
Another officer laughed and asked what the person in the pink sweatshirt had told him. “That I was af—— p—-. That I don’t like America. All sorts of things,” the officer replied. “At some point, I have a few more years here. meet us.
Videos reviewed by 8News also show scores of protesters chatting with officers, telling them “it was peaceful” and chanting “do the right thing” and “don’t shoot”.
In the videos, protesters are heard swearing and shouting at officers. Some were seen throwing objects, such as water bottles, and throwing tear gas canisters at officers after they were deployed near Lee’s statue.
Lawsuits were filed on behalf of six protesters by Andrew Bodoh, an attorney with civil rights and personal injury law firm Thomas H. Roberts & Associates PC, and a settlement was reached. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed when the settlement was announced in February of this year, but the federal judge in charge of the prosecution ordered that the protective order in the case be lifted in July.
As part of the settlement, the city also agreed to take down a June 2020 tweet from Richmond police that said tear gas was to be used around the former General Robert E. Lee monument to bring officers who “ were cut off by violent protesters” to safety.
Other scenes in the released footage show officers being ordered by radio to form a “360 perimeter” around the monument as dozens of people march towards the protest. Videos also show officers in this formation, circling protesters who have their hands up from at least several feet away, as officers fire the canisters without warning.
“No RPD officers were isolated by violent protesters at the Lee Monument. There was no need for gas at the Lee Monument to get the RPD officers to safety,” said one of six tweets from the department. retracting the 2020 tweet.
Spokespersons for the Richmond Police Department and Stoney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the release of the documents to the library.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.