Months Later, Richmond Police Say They’re Still Investigating Complaints Made Against Officers
Richmond police say several internal investigations about use of force by officers during two months of protests this Summer are still ongoing.
That includes an investigation into an incident that occurred almost four months ago, on June 1st, when police tear gassed a crowd of people at the Lee Monument downtown. It was still light out and it was well before that night’s curfew. The following day, Richmond Police tweeted the action had been unwarranted and that the officers involved would be disciplined.
As of this week police say that investigation is still ongoing.
“If you make it a priority it shouldn’t take this long,” says attorney Charlie Schmidt of the RVA Legal Collaborative. The pro-bono group is helping protestors who are facing criminal charges. “I think four months to investigate an incident that was caught on camera...that’s just dragging their heels… that’s unreasonable.”
Schmidt adds that he’d hope that the police department would have prioritized the investigations to help rebuild trust with the community.
Police and local officials promised investigations of several other alleged instances of abuse. In June, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney tweeted that an officer who appeared to drive his car into protestors on June 14th would be placed on administrative leave while there was a “full investigation.” Officials additionally promised an investigation after local journalists were pepper-sprayed and shoved by police while covering the protests. The Virginia Press Association condemned the use of force against reporters.
VPM’s Roberto Roldan, who reported being shoved to the ground and pepper-sprayed in the face, says he met with an internal affairs detective a few weeks after the incident, but hasn’t received an update since. The incident was on May 31st.
In an email Tuesday, a Richmond police spokeswoman confirmed those investigations are still ongoing. She wouldn’t comment on them further.
The Richmond Police Department has updated Use of Force reports from the summer though. The spokeswoman says those counts, which were previously released without including protest-related incidents, are now complete and up to date.
According to the reports, Richmond police officers have used force 149 times since May 29th, the first night of protests in Richmond. It’s not immediately clear how many of those incidents are related to protests. Officers are responsible for self-reporting anytime they use force.
During the height of civil unrest this summer, the reports show dozens of instances of the use of foggers, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and pepper balls -- all in the part of the city where protests were centered.