CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who has met with and walked with demonstrators a number of times in the past week was involved in a scuffle Monday afternoon with protesters one day after he’d had another tense interaction.
Protests have remained peaceful over the last several nights in uptown and CMPD said officers have been able to facilitate several demonstrations without any incidents.
But there have been two back to back incidents where a police officer was confronted by a group of aggressive demonstrators.
The first incident happened late Sunday night.
CMPD said just before 10:30 p.m., a small group of around 100 protesters left Marshall Park and began to march in uptown. Officials said several protesters started to shove an officer, Capt. Brad Koch, who has been repeatedly marching with demonstrators since the marches started 10 days ago.
According to CMPD, some of the demonstrators protected Koch from the aggressive protesters while more officers responded to help. During the incident, pepper spray was used against a few protesters and two suspects were arrested. CMPD said an officer was injured.
Gloria Merriweather, 28, was charged with assault on a government official and resisting a public officer and 36-year-old Tomeka Hayes was charged with resisting a public officer.
The second incident happened around 4:15 p.m. Monday as a protest outside the Government Center was starting.
Channel 9′s Joe Bruno was there and said as Koch approached the protest, it was clear many demonstrators didn’t want him there. They were chanting “Bye Brad” and a couple of dozen protesters approached and surrounded him.
Koch stayed and engaged with the protesters, but when he went to the trashcan to throw away his Starbucks, people followed. The CMPD captain tried to walk past them, but someone shoved him in the chest and he immediately tackled that person, which was captured on video by WFAE’s Nick de la Canal.
A couple of other protesters jumped on top of Koch before another protester helped break up the tussle and stood in front of the officer to protect him from the crowd.
After the confrontation, Koch left and the protest continued.
No one appeared to be injured and police said the protester who initially shoved Koch was able to get away. One arrest was made though -- James Marsicano, 27, was charged with two counts each of assault on a government official, resisting a public officer and disorderly conduct. Police said Marsicano was also involved in the incident with Koch the night prior.
Officers said they were looking to identify five other suspects who may have been involved in the incident, saying Koch was “assaulted in broad daylight.” Police told Bruno that something was taken from Koch and they are investigating.
On Wednesday, police confirmed that Molly Storm had also been arrested in relation to the incident. She was charged with resisting a public officer.
CMPD said Koch has walked hundreds of miles alongside protesters. They did not say why demonstrators do not want him participating in the marches anymore.
The department also tweeted a message thanking the protesters who stepped in to help the captain before officers arrived.
The Fraternal Order of Police sent Channel 9 the following statement after Koch’s confrontation with protesters:
“We hate to see anyone get injured. It is especially concerning to see one of our members attacked while going above and beyond in the line of duty. Captain Koch has been front and center in coordinating with the protesters to ensure their Constitutional rights are protected.”
CMPD later said that out of an abundance of caution, Koch has been taken off the line with demonstrators until further notice.
Overall, Tuesday’s demonstrations remained largely peaceful through uptown. According to police, around 6:40 p.m., protesters from groups at the Government Center and Freedom Park joined together and began marching. That march ended around 7:45 p.m., but a small group of protesters remained in the area and continued to march.
Shortly before 8:10 p.m., the group was near 300 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard when police said Latif Majied threatened to kill two officers. Majied was arrested and charged with two counts of communicating threats and was also served with three outstanding criminal summonses for communicating threats and two counts of trespassing.
No other incidents were reported and the demonstrations ended around 12:15 a.m. CMPD said no officers were injured, no dispersal orders were issued and there was no use of riot control agents.
Since the beginning of the protests, 19 officers have been injured and 128 arrests have been made, according to the police department.
‘We have the same blood’: More rallies, marches planned
Monday marked the eleventh straight day of protests in and around Charlotte following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Protests continued across the country and around the world over the death of the 46-year-old black man who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police after being detained for questioning regarding a possible forgery in progress.
The officer who arrested Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers – identified as Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – were also fired and face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Students and parents in Ballantyne took to the streets Sunday to promote their message of justice. The march was led by 11-year-old Joshua Broadnax.
“It shouldn’t matter what the color my skin is,” Broadnax said. “It should just matter that I’m human. We’re all human. It doesn’t matter the color of our skin. We have the same blood.”
In Marshall Park on Sunday, people shared their message with chalk, on poster boards and through a microphone.
Charlotte Uprising and Seeking Justice Charlotte organized the gathering. It looked different than what we have seen the past nine nights with more sitting and less walking.
Organizers said that was on purpose.
“Get to know the people you’ve been marching with, kind of unwind a little bit, that’s what tonight is all about,” demonstrator Kass Ottley said. “We’ve been going pretty hard for the last nine days.”
Those who attended the event signed a banner that will be sent to Floyd’s family.
A separate group met in Romare Bearden Park and marched through the streets of Charlotte. The march ended much earlier than on previous nights. People who spoke with Channel 9 said the demonstrations across Charlotte will continue into the week.
Monday night, the NAACP held a rally outside CMPD headquarters to speak out about the recent tactics used against protesters.
The rally started at 6 p.m. at the Government Center and then protesters marched around CMPD headquarters, the county jail and courthouse, eventually wrapping up at Marshall Park.
The rally in uptown Monday was in response to an incident last Tuesday night on 4th Street where video appeared to show police spraying protesters with pepper balls and tear gas.
© 2020 Cox Media Group