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Grand Jury Indicts Richmond Cops Over George Floyd Riot Response

Richmond, VA – Two Richmond police detectives are facing multiple charges in connection with their actions against Black Lives Matter activists during the George Floyd riots in May.

All of the charges stem from an incident that occurred at about 3:45 a.m. on May 31 in the 200-block of North Belvidere Street, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

That was the second night of violent riots accompanied by looting and burning in Richmond in protest of Floyd’s death.

The 46-year-old Floyd died while he was being arrested by the Minneapolis police on May 25 and his death sparked riots nationwide led by Black Lives Matter activists.

Richmond Police Detectives Mark Janowski and Christopher Brown were initially indicted in October for their role in the May incident, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin presented 18 charges for the grand jury to consider against eight Richmond police officers, the Associated Press reported.

The grand jury ended up indicting only Det. Janowski and Det. Brown on one count each of misdemeanor assault and battery.

The other six officers who were under investigation have been returned to regular duty, the Associated Press reported.

Peter Baruch, the lawyer for Det. Janowski, said the officers had faced “unimaginable” challenges during the violent riots when “many officers” were injured.

“They were faced with circumstances that were unprecedented,” Baruch said. “The city was literally on fire in many places.”

On Monday, McEachin announced that both of the detectives had been indicted again, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The grand jury handed down two additional counts each of misdemeanor assault and battery against Det. Janowski and Det. Brown on Dec. 7.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office has not released any details about the incident that led to the charges, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Both detectives have been placed on desk duty until the criminal charges are resolved.

Det. Janowski, 34, joined the Richmond Police Department in 2014, the Associated Press reported.

Det. Brown, 28, has been a member of the police force since 2015.

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith has refused to comment on the ongoing cases.

There has been a lot of criticism about the Richmond Police Department’s handling of the riots in the city, the Associated Press reported.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office reviewed five civil rights complaints in July and cleared the Richmond police officers of wrongdoing.

Included in those investigations were allegations that an officer had deliberately driven a police vehicle through a crowd of protesters on June 13, the Associated Press reported.

The findings of that investigation were detailed in a report released by McEachin’s office, The Washington Post reported.

“Contrary to many news reports or social media posts, there is no objective evidence that the SUV was deliberately driven through an unsuspecting group of protesters,” the report read. “Any contact that occurred between any person and the SUV was due to that person’s individual decision to make contact with the vehicle.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney had called for that investigation but later said he hadn’t seen the police doing anything wrong in the videos, The Washington Post reported.

The commonwealth’s attorney also dismissed a claim that an officer had spit on protesters and another complaint that one officer had a white supremacist tattoo and another had worn blackface in a picture.

The prosecutor’s investigation determined that the tattoo was the logo of a firearms training company and the photo had been “had been altered to appear as though the officer was in ‘blackface,’” The Washington Post reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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