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Lawsuit against city dropped; officers cleared of wrongdoing

Posted at 12:08 AM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 08:25:27-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A Virginia Beach lawyer dropped a lawsuit he filed in June against the City of Richmond requesting the city release police officers' body camera video following an incident between Richmond Police and protesters.

The video was eventually released by Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin.

The video showed a Richmond Police officer driving an SUV through a crowd on Monument Avenue as protesters surrounded the vehicle, some throwing objects.

Richmond Police said that they were attacked and stayed in the vehicle for safety.

"The officer driving the police SUV attempted to back up and leave the area. That officer was reportedly assaulted through an open window and protesters continued to throw objects at the vehicle, causing damage," police said.

Photos from after the incident showed the back of the SUV's rear windshield with a hole and a large dent on the car's rear panel.

The video made its rounds on social media, where witnesses said that the officers drove through the crowd and struck pedestrians.

"Last night I was struck by a police vehicle. And if I had fallen a few inches further than I did... I might not be here," a man told the crowd at a protest following the event.

Councilman Mike Jones (9th District) called the incident unacceptable.

"I hate to state the obvious - you can’t drive a vehicle into a crowd of citizens," Jones wrote. "It is not acceptable and we are all awaiting for the report. This can not be tolerated."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addressed the criticisms against Richmond Police during protests and rioting in the city, calling for an investigation into the video and for the officer to be put on administrative leave pending the investigation.

"As the mayor of the city it's my job to ensure public safety to everyone and the Richmond Police Department wakes up every day to answer that call and they do a good job in doing so as well and they have a record of that," Stoney said. "My job also as mayor is to ask tough questions too, of all my agencies."

But days later, Stoney was recorded at a behind-closed-doors meeting with police, saying that he "saw nothing criminal."

Richmond's top prosecutor agreed.

McEachin released the results of an investigation into several incidents involving police and protesters and found the officers involved in the video did not engage in misconduct.

Tim Anderson, a criminal defense attorney in Virginia Beach, saw that and said he had to expose what he refers to as "hypocrisy."

"He watched the same video that I just released, so he knew how dangerous of a situation it was...It's totally sick," Anderson said. "The mayor takes the position that the cop did something wrong them out publicly saying he did something wrong, calls for a criminal investigation of the cop but not the people who actually assaulted the officer and fires the police chief."

Stoney said he will continue to let personnel matters run their course.

"There are obviously ongoing investigations that will still continue - both internally or with the Commonwealth's Attorney," Stoney said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Stoney said that they do not comment on pending litigation.