'Disastrous' policing failures are exposed in report into violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville where woman was killed after car plowed into counter-protesters
- An independent review of the police response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer was released?on Friday?
- The report blames the City of Charlottesville for failing to protect public safety or the protesters' right to express themselves
- The report says 'planning and coordination breakdowns' before August 12 led to 'disastrous results'
- 'Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park,' the report said
- State police directed their officers 'to remain behind barricades rather than risk injury responding to conflicts between protesters and counter-protesters'
- And Charlottesville commanders 'similarly instructed their officers not to intervene in all but the most serious physical confrontations'
- State police and Charlottesville police were unable to communicate by radio the day of the rally because they were on different channels, the report said
- The review also found that an officer was initially supposed to be stationed near the intersection where the car plowed into counterprotesters - killing one
- The officer asked for relief out of safety concerns and was not replaced, he said
Law enforcement's response to a violent white nationalist rally in Virginia last summer failed on multiple fronts, an independent review released Friday found.
Former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy's monthslong investigation of the Charlottesville rally found that the city failed by not adequately communicating or coordinating in advance and by removing an officer from an area where a car plowed into counterprotesters and killed a woman.
Heaphy's team interviewed 150 people and pored over half a million documents for the report, which found a lack of preparation and coordination between state and city police and a passive response by officers to the chaos.
The findings of former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy's months-long investigation into he Charlottesville rally were unveiled on Friday. The report found that police officers failed t maintain order in the deadly clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters (pictured above on August 12)
White supremacist groups marched in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ?
The report says 'planning and coordination breakdowns' before August 12 led to 'disastrous results' (above, marchers on August 12)
The report said the city of Charlottesville had failed to protect public safety or the protesters' right to express themselves.
'This represents a failure of one of government's core functions_the protection of fundamental rights,' the report said. 'Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury, and death. Charlottesville preserved neither of those principles on August 12, which has led to deep distrust of government within this community.'
White nationalists who descended on Charlottesville in part to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee began fighting in the streets with counterdemonstrators before the event even officially began. The brawling went on for nearly an hour in plain view of officers until the event eventually disbanded. Later, as counterdemonstrators were peacefully marching through a downtown street, a car drove into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many more.
An officer was supposed to be in the area where a protester later drove his car into a group of counter protesters?
Counter protester Heather Heyer (left) was killed after being hit by the car driven by James Alex Fields Jr. (right)
More than a dozen people were injured when Fields plowed into the growds
The report says 'planning and coordination breakdowns' before August 12 led to 'disastrous results.'
'Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park,' the report said.
State police directed their officers 'to remain behind barricades rather than risk injury responding to conflicts between protesters and counter-protesters,' it said. And Charlottesville commanders 'similarly instructed their officers not to intervene in all but the most serious physical confrontations.'
State police and Charlottesville police were unable to communicate by radio the day of the rally because they were on different channels, the report said.
The review also found that an officer was initially supposed to be stationed near the intersection where the car plowed into counterprotesters. But the officer asked for relief out of safety concerns and was not replaced, he said.
Only a sawhorse was in place when the car drove into the crowd, killing Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. The day's death toll rose to three when two state troopers sent to monitor the scene and support the governor's motorcade died in a helicopter crash.
Graphic photos and video also emerged of several white nationalists beating up a black man at the march
Deandre Harris (pictured) was the victim of the attack. His face was left bloodied and he needed several stitches to his head
Daniel Borden (left), Alex Michael Ramos (center) and Jacob Scott Goodwin (right) were arrested in connection to the beating of Harris
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Police Chief Al Thomas and other top officials have previously defended the law enforcement response, saying police had to show restraint because some people in the crowd were heavily armed.
Rally organizers and counterprotesters, as well as some law enforcement experts, have questioned why authorities didn't do more to separate opposing forces or step in once the violence began breaking out.
City officials had tried to move the rally to a larger park about a mile from downtown Charlottesville, but their request was blocked by a federal judge after the American Civil Liberties Union sued on free-speech grounds.
Heaphy served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia from 2009-2015, after being appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Republican Party of Virginia criticized the city's decision to hire Heaphy, arguing he should be disqualified from leading the review because of past political donations he made to Democratic candidates, including $200 to Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer's campaign fund in 2015.
Heaphy has said his contributions would have no bearing on the review.
Most watched News videos
- F***ing joke? Paula Radcliffe's husband on Mo Farah's SPOTY win
- Thousands turn out to see criminals sentenced and executed
- Bystander films chaotic scene of the derailed Amtrak train
- Aerial views of RAF Mildenhall as security lockdown is ended
- Ashley Jensen seen with her husband at the 2008 Emmy Awards
- Surveillance footage shows moment off-duty officer tracks gunman
- Shocking footage shows fire breaking out at Cameron House, Scotland
- Police statement after 'horrific' multi-vehicle crash in Birmingham
- Diddy says he's interested in buying the Carolina Panthers
- Scene of fatal car crash in Birmingham where at least 6 died
- Darius Campbell reveals charity water filter that can 'save lives'
- Restaurant boss stunned after customers send letter with bill