Charlotte police officers were filmed on body cam bragging about intentionally isolating a group of some 200 Black Lives Matter protesters marching uptown before ambushing them with tear gas.
‘Wave goodbye, they’re all about to get gassed,’ one Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer is heard saying on bodycam footage from June 2 obtained by The Charlotte Observer.
The comment was made as a large group of protesters were marching down Fourth Street peacefully chanting.
Body cam footage released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department recorded one unidentified police officer saying that the plan was to ‘bottle-neck’ the protesters and then to ‘hammer their a**.’
‘We’re gonna push their a** straight up Fourth,’ the officer is heard saying.
‘As soon as they get up on Fourth – we’ve got a bottleneck now – Rory’s squad is going to step out and hammer their a**,’ the officer said.
As the protesters are seen marching by, one of the officers makes the ‘Wave goodbye’ comment.
The video then shows police firing tear gas at the protesters, who then begin running.
Body cam footage shows officers on bicycles chasing after the demonstrators.
The protest on June 2 marked the fifth consecutive day of protest in Charlotte following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Demonstrators and witnesses at the Fourth Street protest have accused CMPD of using disproportionate force to disperse what appeared to be a peaceful march.
Some said police used pepper balls and tear gas.
‘That was some Third World crap that they pulled,’ one of the marchers, 42-year-old Edward Walker, told the Observer.
‘On their own citizens. In Charlotte.’
Walker said that he was gagging because of the tear gas and that it felt like his skin was burning.
Unable to see, Walker, a newspaper publisher, managed to find cover under a locked parking garage gate.
He said the tear gas made it feel like he was breathing ‘with my head in a bucket of bleach.’
‘They just ambushed us,’ another protester, Melody Rogers, 26 , said.
The videos released on Wednesday by CMPD appear to confirm witness accounts.
‘They just confirmed what we already knew and what we said from the beginning: that this was a planned attack – despite the chief’s statements, and despite the tweets that they had put out saying otherwise,’ Kristie Puckett Williams told the Observer.
CMPD on Wednesday said that it had released some 100 hours of video footage from that night.
Earlier that same evening, another officer was heard encouraging a colleague to spray a protester who was said to be aiming a laser pointer at him in the face with a chemical agent.
Protesters and police came face to face at the intersection of Fifth and McDowell Streets.
Before using tear gas, officers described their ‘plan’.
‘Let’s turn them up Trade and get this plan in action,’ an officer says.
‘Everybody else get in line to push them all the way up Trade, to Trade and College.’
Video footage reveals that cops were instructed to ‘hold a hard line’ after deploying flash bangs and smoke.
Just after 9pm, police were informed by radio that one officer was hit in the head with a rock.
Officials also said some officers were hit with water bottles.
The video indicated that CMPD wanted to prevent protesters from reaching a nearby highway.
At one point, one officer is heard talking about a protester holding a laser pointer.
‘If she points it at your face, if she gets close – spray her in the face with OC,- another officer says, referring to pepper spray.
‘OK,’ the first officer replies.
The videos appear to contradict statements given by police officials in June.
When asked by members of the Charlotte city council about the incident, CMPD claimed that police units were operating independently of one another.
But the body cam footage released on Wednesday suggests that the ambush of protesters was coordinated.
Officers also denied to city council members that they used a method known as ‘kettling’ – or trapping demonstrators between lines of officers without allowing for a path to disperse.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation conducted a report on the incident and found that protesters were not blocked by police.
NCSBI said that protesters had the option of escaping through South College Street.
But some demonstrators said that they were hit by chemical agents when running into that area.
NCSBI also found that officers in riot gear were not wearing body cameras, as they normally should.
CMPD claimed that officers in riot gear were unable to wear body cameras.
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said that all officers are now required to wear body cams.