RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — In the hours after a water bottle full of unknown liquid was thrown and splashed Officer Duane Peppel’s skin, welts appeared across his body and a burning sensation persisted.
“It felt like my whole entire right side was on fire. It was pretty painful to sleep,” he said.
Peppel, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Richmond police officer for just under three years, says rioters outnumbered police “10 to one” Sunday night before Virginia State Police arrived at where a large crowd gathered at Richmond police headquarters on Grace Street.
“We were doing just the best we can; just trying to keep the crowd calm,” Peppel said.
After a demonstrator breached a police line, and was later arrested, Peppel said the crowd became unruly after pepper spray was deployed at some point in the evening.
At some point Peppel said he, and four other officers, were splashed with an unknown liquid–the pain unlike the after-effects of chemical agents he experienced before in the military.
WATCH: RPD releases video of scuffle between demonstrators, police Sunday night near headquarters
“That night when I got home, like I said, my arm was burning I didn’t really notice anything. I woke up the next morning my hands were swollen and on-fire. I could barely tie my boot laces, how painful it was…’ and later Monday evening, “there were marks across my neck, across my forehead, down my back, on my waist,” Peppel said.
Peppel took to Facebook to share his experience, posting photos of welts, and irritated skin.
While visiting a doctor for pain that worsened, Peppel said it’s not known what may have been in the water bottle, however his doctor indicated “most likely what was in there was a mixture of chemicals, based-off what we’re seeing off of Twitter and Facebook, how to make chemical agents.”
Peppel, whose condition has improved, says he was provided Benadryl to alleviate the burning, and itching and was instructed to continuously apply hydrocortisone.
An “intimidating” work-assignment, Peppel said “you’ve got people yelling obscenities at you, shooting lasers into your eyes, hitting you with high-performance flashlights, LED lights…’ ‘…you just try do absorb everything that’s going one.”
After two weeks of unrest and instances of violence, Peppel believes it’s now time to hear from law enforcement on the receiving end of calls for reform to police departments.
“It’s nothing but protesters, protesters, protesters. What they want, what they need and now it’s time for us to, like, ‘we hear you, we want to talk to you but you can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep tearing down the city that you all claim as home.'”