PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Portsmouth Police chief says officers who pushed some protesters during an incident on Interstate 264 on June 1 are under administrative investigation after they “failed to meet … [the] department’s high expectations and standards of conduct.”
Police Chief Angela Greene sent out a statement this week detailing what led up to the incident.
The statement also said “immediate corrective action” has been taken against the two officers involved. Details of what standards they failed to meet, as well as the discipline they received, will not be provided because it’s a personnel matter, Greene said.
According to the statement, Portsmouth officers were traveling on I-264 around 6:30 p.m. on June 1 while responding to a request for assistance from the Virginia Beach Police Department.
While on their way to assist Virginia Beach, the group of police cruisers encountered a traffic backup near the North Military Highway overpass.
Police turned on their emergency lights and sirens and started traveling down the left shoulder in the eastbound lanes.
Police then came upon pedestrian traffic on I-264 that was stopping vehicles.
“As traffic, including the police vehicles, came to a complete halt, the protesters began approaching and surrounding the stopped police cars,” Greene wrote.
Some officers then exited their vehicles to form a perimeter line to try to help clear a lane of travel for the vehicles to continue on the Virginia Beach.
Two officers “created distance” by approaching and pushing some protesters back. Greene said one of the two people who were pushed had a wooden mallet in one hand and a stick in the other.
“The incident on Interstate 264 is currently under administrative investigation for all officers involved. Based on the preliminary review of body camera footage, two officers failed to meet our Department’s high expectations and standards of conduct. This has resulted in immediate corrective action. Any additional corrective action that the administrative investigation reveals to be appropriate will be undertaken expeditiously,” Greene said.
Greene continued: “The Portsmouth Police Department takes seriously its obligation to protect and serve and we will continue to scrutinize our own conduct to ensure that we can meet the standards of just and conscientious policing that our citizens demand.”
Greene also said none of the officers were wearing riot gear — and the department hasn’t deployed any officers in riot gear since protests began in the City of Portsmouth. The officers shown in a video of the incident were either in regular uniforms or a tactical uniform.
“We have not deployed officers in riot gear or used aggressive tactics for any demonstrations or protests that have occurred in the City of Portsmouth. All protests have been peaceful and unified demonstrations and it is our hope that this will continue to be the trend in Portsmouth. As such, the Portsmouth Police Department will continue to do all we can to support our citizens as they exercise their right to free speech and peacefully assemble,” Greene said.
Watch the full video below:
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