Richmond Police Chief apologizes for tear-gas incident involving protesters, says policies will be reviewed

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police Chief Will Smith said on Monday that the department will review police use of force and crowd management following weeks of protests and officer complaints.

The department has been heavily scrutinized following their response to protesters, which included an incident where tear-gas was deployed and several arrests for curfew violations. Smith said in the statement that the department has “received several formal complaints which are being investigated.”

RELATED: Protester files lawsuit against Richmond police after he was tear-gassed at Lee monument

Citing that the investigation is just one component of the department’s “comprehensive review,” Smith says he has “ordered a review of our use of force and crowd management policies as well as all tactics used during the past week. Further, we will open a discussion with community leaders to advise us on how our policies, training and practices need[ed] to change to reflect the needs of our city, and I am personally committed to continuing the conversation on police reform with the community.”

Responding specifically to the tear-gassing incident involving Richmond officers and protesters, and an impending investigation, Chief Smith said:

“As you may know, Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin has announced an investigation by her office into what happened during the demonstrations. I support this investigation and we are working quickly and thoroughly to ensure cooperation and full accountability. Again, I apologize for the release of tear gas last Monday.  It should not have happened.  I will provide the public with an update on the investigations and any disciplinary steps taken once they are complete and a determination is made by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office that allows such discussion.”

Richmond Police Chief William C. Smith

RELATED: Richmond’s top prosecutor investigating police’s use of tear gas before curfew

The statement comes after an 8News report Monday that shows new video and new angles from when Richmond police officers tear-gassed peaceful protesters last week. In the new video obtained by 8News from a viewer, the video provides a new perspective of the moment tear gas was first deployed last Monday night.

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