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In Leaked Video, Stoney Tells Police "Nothing Criminal" About Officer Driving Through Crowd

Mayor Stoney spoke to reporters today after a video leaked in which he seemed to describe an investigation into police conduct as perfunctory. (Photo: Whittney Evans/VPM News)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney told a group of police officers last month he saw nothing criminal about the actions of an officer who drove a vehicle through a group of protesters who were blocking an intersection. Stoney made those comments, which surfaced in a leaked video as an investigation into that officer’s actions was underway. 

In the video, which was originally posted to social media by a Virginia Beach attorney, Richmond Police officers question Mayor Levar Stoney in private about his response to the June 13 incident. Stoney defends his decision to call for a criminal investigation and request that the officer be placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice. 

Stoney also told the officers “I saw nothing criminal,” despite an open investigation into the incident. 

Stoney responded to questions about the video during a press conference Wednesday. 

“The footage I saw, as I stated then was ‘no criminality,’” Stoney said. However, I recognize it is the commonwealth’s attorney’s role to determine what is criminal.”

Activists on Twitter condemned the officer’s actions as intentional, while the department maintains the officer was responding to attacks from protesters. 

It’s unclear how many times Richmond Police officers used force against citizens during the course of protests in the last six weeks. The department’s latest use-of-force report expressly excludes any incidents that occurred during the demonstrations. The number of internal investigations into allegations of officer misconduct is also unclear. That data is posted only through 2016.

Police Chief Gerald Smith told reporters this week that information about how many officers have been disciplined or suspended for actions over the course of the protests will be made available after he hires an outside firm to investigate. 

“What took place?” Smith said. “A lot took place. Do we know it all? No. But that review should bring everything and give us a bigger picture of what took place.”

Police data show 11 citizens lodged complaints against the department during the month of June.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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