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Richmond Police Chief: Officers disciplined over actions on Monument Avenue

Posted at 10:13 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 23:44:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police officers who sprayed tear gas on protesters around the Robert E. Lee monument have been pulled from the field and will be disciplined for their actions, Police Chief William Smith said Monday evening.

"Chief Smith just reviewed video of gas being deployed by RPD officers near the Lee Monument and apologizes for this unwarranted action," Richmond Police tweeted. "These officers have been pulled from the field. They will be disciplined because their actions were outside dept protocols and directions given."

As thousands of peaceful protesters marched from downtown Richmond to Monument Avenue on Monday night, many ended up near the Lee monument.

At about 7 :30 p.m., tear gas was fired from an area where Richmond Police were stationed, toward the protestors. Many of the protestors scrambled for cover.

Richmond Police Officers mace protestors at close range

"The police escorted the peaceful protest from the Capitol all the way down to the monument. Once the other units arrived shortly after the crowd was teargassed without warning," protestor Anthony Garcia explained.

"To our peaceful protestors: We are sorry we had to deploy gas near the Lee Monument," Richmond Police tweeted. "Some RPD officers in that area were cut off by violent protestors. The gas was necessary to get them to safety."

Around 9:45 p.m. Monday evening, Richmond Police tweeted that some officers involved in Monday's tear gas incident have been pulled from the field.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney responded on Twitter.

"To the peaceful protesters who were gassed tonight, please come. I want to apologize in person," he tweeted.

State Seantor Jennifer McClellan (D - Richmond) demanded more answers.

"Tear gassing peaceful protestors without warning is unacceptable," she wrote. "We need more answers on why this happened. Witness accounts and video on the scene suggest this was unprovoked."

This is a developing story.