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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.

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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Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.
David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal