Charlotte Police Protestors Class Action Overview:
- Who: About 50 participants in last year’s racial justice protests have sued the city of Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Why: The plaintiffs allege Charlotte-Mecklenburg police trapped and attacked them, throwing flashbang grenades and tear gas, and shooting rubber and pepper bullets at them.
- Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
A new class action lawsuit alleges police in North Carolina trapped peaceful protesters in a parking garage and fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets at them during 2020 protests over racial injustice.
The class action lawsuit was filed against the city of Charlotte by around 50 protesters who allege that the police trapped and attacked them on June 2, 2020, throwing flashbangs and tear gas, and shooting rubber and pepper pellets at them from a parking deck above them while they were trying to protest peacefully, WCNC reports.
One of the protesters, Jonathan Quintero, said the police led the protesters into an ambush.
“I actually felt really safe,” Quintero told WCNC. “I thought, what could possibly go on out here with all these police escorting us?”
Plaintiffs Katie Rothweiler and Chantel Kennedy both told the news outlet they were injured, Rothweiler with a nonlethal round. “I was running across the street away from the situation and I got shot in the back of the head,” Rothweiler said.
“Me and my brother were broken apart because we were holding hands, and I was knocked down and I was trampled,” Kennedy said.
Another protester, Corey Newton, said he saw strollers get knocked over and older people who had trouble walking get knocked over and trampled, “it was just chaotic.”
Newton told WCNC he felt worse because he helped organize the event and told people it would be peaceful. “I feel incredibly bad, I do, because that was not my intention,” he said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has since banned the use of tear gas and revised several policies for protest response, but the protesters say that’s not enough.
“Someone needs to be held accountable,” Newton said.
The police department released body camera footage from the protest in question in August, 2020, and one officer could be heard saying: “We’re going to push their a– straight up 4th. As soon as they get up on 4th — because we have them bottlenecked now — Rory’s squad is going to step out and hammer their a–. When they start running down, Dancer squad is going to hammer their a– with gas,” WCNC reports. The officer adds, “Wave goodbye. They’re all about to get gassed.”
The police department told WCNC that it had not reviewed the class action lawsuit and could not comment on the case while it was before the court.
One of the attorneys for the protesters, Timothy Emry with The Emry Law Firm, told WCNC that: “CMPD had committed a planned deliberate attack on those who dared challenge police violence.”
Lauren Newton, a lawyer with Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, told the news outlet that there were individual police officers who “planned and orchestrated this kettling, this trapping, tear gassing, hitting with pepper bullets and rubber bullets.”
She estimated between 300 and 400 people could be eligible to join the class action lawsuit.
What do you think about the police response to the 2020 racial justice protests? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
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