RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s top prosecutor has cleared the Richmond Police Department of any wrongdoing following a review of five civil complaints launched against authorities amid recent unrest in the city.
In a release Monday, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin says she has completed a review of “specific complaints or events based upon referrals from both the RPD Internal Affairs Division (IAD) and community members,” that include:
- Whether a tattoo on the arm of Richmond police officer was linked to a white supremacist group
- Whether a Richmond police officer deliberately drove his vehicle through a crowd of protesters on N. Allen Street on June 13, 2020
- Whether a Richmond police officer painted himself/herself in blackface
- Whether a Richmond police officer deployed pepper spray on a peaceful protester on June 1
- Whether a Richmond police officer spat on a detained protester on June 1
McEachin says herself and a team of experienced attorneys reviewed body-worn camera footage, social media video footage, interviewed witnessed and considered additional information in considering the validity of the complaints. Her findings reveal that she has cleared the police department of any wrongdoing as it pertains to the aforementioned complaints.
An official review revealed the following:
- The tattoo on the arm of the officer was the logo of Northern Red, a company that previously provided firearms training to the officer.
- The allegation that an officer deliberately drove through a crowd of protesters was proven inaccurate. Mayor Levar Stoney acknowledged in a private meeting that he saw nothing criminal in the video.
- An investigation into blackface allegations found that the picture in question was taken years earlier at a collegiate rugby costumed-themed team event. The research found that the officers attended as “sunburned rugby players” and painted their skin red. Furthermore, McEachin says a comparison of the original picture and the picture that made the rounds on social media was altered.
- The deployment of pepper spray was warranted, according to McEachin’s review, following a probe of body-camera footage. The review states that the officer used pepper spray against an individual that was throwing objects at police. “The officer deploys his OC canister to prevent any further violence.”
- Body camera footage also revealed the officer accused of spitting on a detained protester, in fact, spat on the ground.
Then Richmond Police Chief Will Smith apologized for the release of tear gas, saying, in part, “it should not have happened.”
The official review did not employ investigators, the release added.
“This is not a complete list of all of the allegations that our Office is still reviewing,” McEachin said in the release. “I will announce my findings when those investigations are concluded.”
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.