Charlotte police supervisor disciplined for comment during protests

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 28, 2020

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A North Carolina police department supervisor has been disciplined after saying officers confronting demonstrators protesting George Floyd’s death in June were about to “hammer” them.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police sergeant was suspended for two weeks without pay after comments he made during the June 2 protest in which officers deployed tear gas, pepper balls and other chemical agents against largely peaceful demonstrators, The Charlotte Observer reported.

According to the video, the unidentified sergeant told officers with the department’s bicycle unit that the plan called for those marching to be “bottle-necked” on a downtown street. Then, as the protesters passed by chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” the officer says: “Hey, wave goodbye. They’re all about to get gassed.”`

Witnesses and participants have detailed injuries from the protests, in which nearly 200 people were blocked from escaping the tear gas as police officers advanced on them from two directions.

The dozens of videos released Wednesday provided a detailed look at an incident that led to condemnation of CMPD and calls for reforms within the department.

Word of the discipline came as the city prepared to release previously unseen footage captured on body-worn and surveillance cameras. The footage was made public Wednesday afternoon.
Now-retired Chief Kerr Putney previously described the use of “chemical munitions” on protesters as the safest form of crowd control. On Wednesday, Putney’s successor, Johnny Jennings, reiterated that no other CMPD officers have been disciplined in connection to the incident, which has already led to a lawsuit, significant policy changes and a now-expired temporary restraining order against the department to restrict use of chemical agents on peaceful demonstrators.

The Charlotte City Council in June voted to restrict funding for tear gas.
Charlotte City Council and Mayor Vi Lyles reviewed the body-worn camera footage during a closed-session meeting Tuesday, city spokesman Cory Burkarth said. A spokesperson for Lyles did not respond to the newspaper’s request for an interview Wednesday, but in June, Lyles sharply criticized CMPD’s tactics, saying the “night was one of those times that none of can be proud of.”