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Richmond prosecutor dismisses complaints against police

July 21, 2020 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A prosecutor in Richmond has cleared the city’s police officers from wrongdoing in five complaints that were filed against them during the recent protests against racism and police brutality.

The findings were detailed Monday in a report released by Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Colette McEachin, news outlets reported. One of the allegations dismissed by McEachin’s office claimed police drove through a crowd of protesters in the city on June 13.

“Contrary to many news reports or social media posts, there is no objective evidence that the SUV was deliberately driven through an unsuspecting group of protesters,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch quotes the report as saying. “Any contact that occurred between any person and the SUV was due to that person’s individual decision to make contact with the vehicle.”

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney had previously called for an investigation into that incident. He later told officers in a private meeting that he did not see anything criminal based on footage he saw from the scene, the newspaper reported.

Another complaint regarded the use of a chemical agent against a protester in June. Police were justified in using the agent because the demonstrator had thrown water bottles at them, the report said. The office also dismissed another claim that officers spit on a detained protester.

Two other complaints alleged that a police officer had a tattoo of a white supremacist organization and another was wearing blackface in a photo. The report said the tattoo was a logo of a company that provided firearms training to the officer and a social media photo of the other officer “had been altered to appear as though the officer was in ’blackface.’”

The findings did not mention an incident on June 1 where police used tear gas on a group of protesters gathered near the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That incident led to an apology from Stoney and the city’s police department.

More complaints are being reviewed by the office, the report said.