CHARLOTTE — Former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Detective Lee Ratliff said that he was shocked when he watched a video streamed live from local alternative newspaper Queen City Nerve Tuesday night that showed officers boxing in hundreds of protesters on Fourth Street and firing tear gas and pepper bullets at them.
Ratliff, who is a retired U.S. Army veteran, said those were military tactics and not meant for people exercising their constitutional rights.
“There were preachers that were among those that those tactics were brought against, and they were peaceful,” Ratliff said. “Not to say there was not some agitators there.”
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney apologized about the incident, and the city is now conducting an internal review of those actions taken by police. The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the incident.
Ratliff said the video could harm the relationship between police and the community.
“People will see that video and pass judgment and say CMPD overstepped their bounds,” Ratliff said. “It has the potential to set the relationship back with the community.”
Ratliff said he took part in Wednesday night’s demonstrations to make sure protesters were peaceful and police responded appropriately. He said that, overall, the event was mostly peaceful and he is now hoping all sides can learn from this and move forward.
“Correct the behavior, own it first and hold those accountable and then the community moves forward in a positive direction,” he said.
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