RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police addressed an incident outside of the Richmond City Justice Center on Tuesday -- where 11 people were arrested after clashes between protesters and officers.
Demonstrators put on a "Free them all sit-in" outside the city jail to protest a reported COVID-19 outbreak.
Richmond Police say they were called in to assist after protesters started making their way onto the jail's property. Officers brought in tow trucks to remove vehicles illegally parked in front of the jail.
That's when police say a bicyclist blocked a tow truck as it attempted to remove an illegally parked vehicle.
Police say the bicyclist was repeatedly warned to stop, before he then tried to ride away from officers to escape arrest. That's when an unmarked police officer tackled the bicyclist and arrested him.
Police say 10 other protesters were taken into custody after they tried to stop the officer from arresting the bicyclist.
In a press conference Wednesday, Deputy Chief Sydney Collier addressed what some call excessive force displayed by the officers.
"The force is met force right, but he's eluding... He's trying to avoid capture. Okay, so at some point, the officer has to stop him in order to engage him," said Collier. So, in order to arrest him and so long as he is trying to elude, the officer used the only option he had to stop him while he was on a bicycle."
"So in hindsight, it's always easy to Monday morning quarterback, right. But when you're out there, and you're in the middle of it, it's your responsibility to do the best that you can. So in the officer trying to stop individual that's trying to allude who's been told repeatedly to move from in front of the tow truck. Now, he chooses not to be arrested in try to escape. I think the officer did what he had to do to bring that situation to a conclusion," Collier added.
Collier says if someone feels like an officer used excessive force, they can file a complaint and it will be investigated. He says no complaints have been filed in connection to Tuesday's incident at this time.
"You can protest, but you have to be peaceful. If you're told that you're in violation of something, than you have to adhere to that advice. So, if the sheriff's department told them that 'you cannot be on our property' then they could have came back to the sidewalk and protested on the sidewalk," Collier explained.
Collier says no injuries were reported in Tuesday's incident.
COVID-19 outbreak at Richmond City Justice Center
The Richmond City Sheriff’s Office is reporting that there are currently 91 inmates and seven staff members that have tested positive for COVID-19.
They say 10 inmates have exhibited minor or mild symptoms and there are no reported deaths.
Protesters have also repeatedly claimed that an inmate who was in custody died of COVID-19, however, officials with the Richmond Sheriff's Office have repeatedly denied the claim.
Officials say approximately 1200 tests have been given to staff and inmates, including more than 80% percent of the jail’s population.