Charlotte Officers, City Sued Over Protest Response – Point of Law

Gas is deployed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers during a June 2 protest. The response has triggered two lawsuits. (Photo: Charlotte Observer Screen Shot)

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and specific officer over response last June to a protest in the city’s Uptown area.

The lawsuit accuses CMPD and members of its command staff of drawing up a plan to end the night’s protests in uptown over the death of George Floyd with “a retaliatory and punishing show of force … to discourage future protests against police,” the Charlotte Observer reports.

According to the complaint, concealed riot police closed off both ends of the block. They then deployed tear gas, pepper balls and stinger grenades while officers perched on a parking deck fired down with chemical munitions from above.

In response to an Observer request Wednesday for comment, CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said in an email that police have not had “the opportunity to review the lawsuit. We will refrain from providing any additional comments, as the matter will likely be before the courts.”

The lawsuit accuses the City of Charlotte and a top rung of current and former CMPD leaders of a list of abuses, from negligence, assault and battery, and false imprisonment to intentional/reckless infliction of severe emotional distress.

The marchers’ legal team, which includes representatives from some of city’s more prominent trial law firms, is seeking damages that could run into the millions, given the hundreds of protesters potentially involved.

An earlier lawsuit filed in Charlotte by the NAACP and the ACLU and other groups did not involve monetary damages but was settled late last month with CMPD having made a series of major reforms, including a ban on both the use of tear gas on marchers and the crowd-control measure known as “kettling,” in which targets are trapped between advancing police lines.

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