Richmond police account conflicts with witness statements/videos

Several Richmond police officers have been pulled from duty and are under investigation by the city's Commonwealth's Attorney.
Broken rear window of Richmond police SUV (Photo provided by the Richmond Police Department)

Richmond mayor Levar Stoney Sunday announced he has asked the city’s Commonwealth’s Attorney to investigate a police SUV hitting pedestrians during a protest Saturday night at the Robert E. Lee memorial on Monument Circle.

The mayor also wants the officer who drove the vehicle placed on administrative leave during an investigation.

Colette McEachin, the prosecutor, is also investigating officers accused of teargassing a crowd of peaceful protestors at the statue on June 1. Those officers are on leave pending that investigation’s conclusions.

Videos of the scene Saturday night show the police SUV driving over a curb and striking protestors. The mayor, in a Twitter tweet Sunday, asked McEachin to “expedite this review, along with several other cases from the past week.”

One of the videos (via Twitter):

The police department, in a statement released Sunday says “suspect who threw objects at the police SUV and reportedly assaulted the officer could face criminal charges” and released a timeline of the incident that differs sharply from what the video shows and observations by two Richmond Times-Dispatch reporters who saw what happened.

On Saturday night about 9:30 p.m., the video shows the SUV, without its blue lights flashing or using a siren, mount the curb and drive into the protestors. Witnesses said the front windows of the SUV were down with the driver and one other officer inside.

After striking the pedestrians, the SUV left the scene without stopping to see if anyone was injured, the videos show and witnesses confirm.

No one was seriously injured but the videos shows people knocked off their bicycles.

In a first statement shortly after midnight Saturday, police said “reports on social media that a person in the crowed may have been struck by the vehicle.”

A later statement says:

Objects were thrown at the vehicle, so officers stayed inside due to safety concerns. The officer driving the police SUV attempted to back up and leave the area. That officer was reportedly assaulted through an open window and protesters continued to throw objects at the vehicle, causing damage.

A photo attached to the release shows a police SUV rear window broken.

The videos, however, show the protestors did not approach the vehicle under after it crossed the curb and struck pedestrians.

On Sunday night, protestors appeared at the headquarters of the Richmond PD and officers responded with pepper spray and arrests.

The incident also bought a warning from the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project, which wants external oversight of the police:

Until elected officials wake up and step into their leadership by taking action on community demands, it’s clear the Richmond Police Department will continue terrorizing our city.

As noted early, several Richmond police officers are not on administrative leave and under investigation.

(This article includes information from The Richmond Times-Dispatch and reporter Ali Rockett.)

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