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'They're All About To Get Gassed': CMPD Releases Body Camera Footage From June 2 Protest

Police body camera footage shows protesters marchng in uptown Charlotte on June 2 just before officers used tear gas.
Police body camera footage shows protesters marchng in uptown Charlotte on June 2 just before officers used tear gas.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released body camera footage Wednesday from the night of June 2, when officers fired tear gas at marchers who were protesting against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Facebook Live video from Queen City Nerve taken during the protest showed marchers apparently boxed in on Fourth Street in uptown as tear gas was fired. 

CMPD described the incident as “regrettable,” and that sentiment was echoed Wednesday by Police Chief Johnny Jennings.

"The actions of CMPD on June 2 may have very well been within the policy at the time, however, we did realize that we have room for improvement," Jennings said at a news conference ahead of the release of dozens of videos from body cameras that night.

The police department has since changed its policy on using chemical agents to disperse crowds. That includes refraining from using tear gas to control crowds and repeatedly giving clear disbursal orders. 

In one video, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer is heard describing what is about to happen to protesters right before tear gas was used. The police department did not provide the officer's name, only specifying that he is a sergeant. 

"Rory's got a platoon on Tryon, out of sight," the sergeant said. "Dance's platoon is staged now on College, out of sight. We're gonna push their ass straight up Fourth. As soon as they get up on Fourth, we got 'em bottlenecked now, Rory's squad is gonna step up and hammer their ass."


Protesters say they were trapped by tear gas used to try to disperse the crowd.Near the end of the full 3 1/2 minute clip, the officer says: "OK, wave goodbye. They're all about to get gassed." 

CMPD petitioned the court to release the body-worn camera footage per state law. A judge signed the order Friday. 

Earlier Wednesday, Jennings said the officer has been disciplined for insensitive and inappropriate comments he made as protesters marched by.

That discipline included a two-week suspension, and the officer was relieved of a specialized assignment as well as the privileges to train. Jennings added the officer will not be able to participate in promotions for at least two years. 

A State Bureau of Investigation report into the incident found CMPD only gave one order for dispersal -- about 25 minutes before using tear gas, and roughly five blocks away. 

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David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.
At this point in her life, Sarah considers home to be a state of mind—not one place. Before joining the WFAE news team, she was hosting and reporting in the deep south in Birmingham, Alabama. In past lives she was a northerner having worked and lived in Indiana, Maine, and New York City. She grew up in Virginia and attended James Madison University in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal