Police arrested a Black 17-year-old protester last week claiming she had assaulted the officer, but body camera footage of the incident appears to show she made no physical contact with the officer and simply stepped in front of his motorcycle before she was later dragged on the ground and detained. 

Raleigh police released body camera footage Friday showing the minutes before the girl, whose name has not been released because she is a juvenile, was arrested on June 18. Police claim no charges were filed against the girl and charges against an adult protester arrested that day were dropped in court. 

Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said her department is continuing to conduct an internal review of the incident. 

The video starts with a text introduction that claims the police department “facilitated” the weeks of Black Lives Matter protests that have engulfed the city since the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. The caption claims protesters “changed their behavior” on June 18, running “into intersections, jamming traffic, creating hazards and general safety concerns.”

“Our officers attempted to coordinate with the group to direct traffic around them for their safety,” the video released by police states. “The recent increase in incidents of pedestrian fatalities has been a cause of concern for our department.” 

The video begins with the officer riding up on his motorcycle to the protesters, who are seen sitting on the ground in the middle of the intersection. A few protesters get up and begin to speak to the officer, but the video contains no audio. One protester fist bumps the officer on his motorcycle. At times, the officer’s body camera is blocked by his hand as he uses his radio.

Over the course of about five minutes, the protesters confront the officer, who remains seated on the motorcycle. More protesters get up from the ground and start to encircle the motorcycle. About five minutes into the video, a girl with a blurred face and a megaphone is seen with group surrounding the motorcycle and appears to be speaking through the megaphone. 

The officer starts to back up on the motorcycle and the girl with the megaphone continues to approach the bicycle. At one point, the officer is seen nearly driving into the girl while attempting to maneuver around the group before breaking quickly. The officer backs up the bicycle again and the girl with the megaphone is seen stepping in front of the bike again before the officer maneuvers around her and another protester.

At no point in the video does the girl appear to make physical contact with the officer or the motorcycle.  

Shortly after the officer drives away, a group of about a dozen cops approaches the protesters at the intersection. 

This section of the video does contain audio. 

“Just make sure we’ve got the right one, we got the ID,” one officer can be heard saying as they walk toward the protesters. 

“Yeah. It’s going to be the little girl with the megaphone,” another officer replies on the radio.

The officers then walk toward the protesters, who are marching and chanting “No justice, no peace.” The cops find the girl with the megaphone, who screams as she is grabbed by the arm by an officer. Another protester attempts to cling on to the girl, but the other officers push her away. The girl is then dragged on the ground, handcuffed, and taken away by police as the other protesters shout “she’s 17,” and “she didn’t do anything.”

The sound of sirens blares in the background of the video as the advancing protesters are pushed back by police. 

“We’re arresting one person for one reason,” an officer is heard saying in the video. “Let them know! Tell them.” 

The girl was later released to her parents, according to police. 

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. 

After reviewing the footage, Attorney Greg Doucette says he does not believe the girl’s actions can be defined as an assault. In North Carolina, assault falls under one of two major categories: harmful or offensive contact with someone⁠— which includes all batteries⁠—and “fear-based” assault which requires “an overt act or an attempt or the unequivocal appearance of an attempt, with force and violence, to do some immediate physical injury to the person in which show of force or menace or violence must the sufficient to put a person of reasonable firmness in fear of immediate bodily harm.”

“Based on the body camera footage, it doesn’t appear to me that the woman with the bullhorn ever initiated contact with the officer or motorcycle,” Doucette told the INDY. “That leaves the “fear” form of assault.”

“Yelling at someone is not ‘with force and violence.’ Yelling at someone through a bullhorn is not ‘with force and violence.’ Stepping in front of someone’s vehicle is not ‘with force or violence,” Doucette says. “And even if we assumed some fantasy world that it was, no reasonable officer in those circumstances would be placed in fear of immediate bodily injury.”

He called the Raleigh Police Department’s justification for the arrest⁠—police stated in a Tweet that the girl “assault a law enforcement officer as he tried to get a group to stop obstructing traffic,”⁠—”gibberish.”

“No assault happened as assault is currently defined in the state of North Carolina,” Doucette says. 

Decide for yourself. Watch the body camera footage of the incident below: 

YouTube video

Follow Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email  to ltauss@indyweek.com

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