News & Opinion

Surveillance Footage Depicts June 2 Ambush As It Happened

On Wednesday, CMPD released 57 videos taken from the body cameras of police officers working in Uptown during protests on June 2, during which the department implemented tactics against protesters that have led to calls for action from local, state and national leaders. You can read our breakdown of that footage here: CMPD Footage Shows June 2 Ambush Was Planned Attack.

The department also released surveillance footage of the incident taken from cameras on nearby buildings. While most of the body-camera videos show what led up to the incident and what followed, these videos depict the actual incident itself. 

We begin with the CCTV footage of the first aggressive incident between protesters and police on June 2 at East 5th and North McDowell streets. The video shows a large crowd of protesters advancing toward a line of bicycle cops near the entrance to U.S. 74. The one thing that is not made clear in either the body-worn camera videos or the CCTV footage is at one point an officer was hit in the head with a rock, as was reported over the radio, or if any medical attention was administered to them or not.

Something occurs at the 1:42 mark in the upper left-hand corner of the video and people begin to disperse from that area rapidly. The first flashbang grenade is thrown into the crowd at the 2:00 mark before the camera starts to shake from the explosion. The entire intersection is essentially cleared.

A second flashbang is deployed at the 2:08 mark. A third at the 2:14 mark. Then a fourth, then a fifth. Officers continued to throw flashbang grenades at the crowd for another few minutes after this video ends. No one in this video can be identified as being violent as its presented here. 

Next we have the view from “Snoopy,” one of CMPD’s patrol helicopters. It shows that bike cops were used to corral the group of protesters into the corridor of East 4th Street between South Tryon and South College streets. It also shows that overall, the group was peaceful and slow-moving as they marched through the streets unaware of what was about to happen.

The video does not depict the moment when Lt. Chris Rorie’s Civil Emergency Unit (CEU) jumps out of hiding on South Tryon Street and uses tear gas, smoke canisters and flashbang grenades on the group to shift them back down to Maj. Rob Dance’s platoon on South College Street. What you can clearly see is that the group had no intentions of running toward a line of CEU officers and you will see why in the video below.

The wind direction from that night pushes the clouds of tear gas west on 4th toward the crowd. In a later video you will see that the group was not able to move away from the clouds as Rorie’s unit began to march east on 4th toward the protesters.

When the first person is seen fleeing through the cloud of smoke, you can also see the puffs of pepper-spray bullets hitting the ground around them as they continue to run. After this, multiple flashbangs can be seen going off behind the crowd as they continue to run east on 4th. 

From the beginning of this video, you can see that members of the protesting group do not interact with officers that are lined up on both sides of the street. People begin to turn around and start running east on 4th Street at the 1:18 mark when the first flashbangs are going off at North Tryon Street.

Near the 1:27 mark, the bike officers begin to move south on College, as they do not carry to proper equipment to be subject to tear gas. During this time you can see that pepper balls are being deployed on people as they are running away near the bottom of the video. A canister of either tear gas or smoke is thrown into the group in the intersection.

Near the 1:40 mark and officer steps around the corner of the building, aiming his converted paintball gun at protesters still stuck between Tryon and College.

At the 2:08 mark you can see one officer directing another to throw a canister of smoke or tear gas near the south side of the intersection, essentially making sure the entire width of the street is covered in gas.

The 2:55 mark is when all hell starts to break loose in this video. After protesters had find a path through the tear gas that was enveloping them up the street, they retreat eastbound on 4th. After they enter the intersection, the CEU officers begin to pelt them with pepper balls, tear gas and flash bangs. People are obviously scared with their hands up, walking away. At the 4:15 mark, you can see that officers continue to shoot pepper balls at people on the other side of the street as they are trying to walk away. They then throw in a couple more canisters of gas or smoke.

From this view facing west on a building near the intersection of 4th and College, you can see the CEU officers with Dance’s unit begin to rush to the intersection. The entire intersection is filled with smoke in seconds.

This video shows Rorie’s unit lying in wait on South Tryon Street before jumping out in front of the protesters and throwing chemical munitions and flashbang grenades in order to get the group to return to the platoon they had just walked by, trapping them.

All of these videos together show that there was no action taken by the group of individuals protesting that warranted a response like the one shown in the video. They were taken by surprise by a force that was ready, and looking, for a fight.

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