Footage shows police planning arrests of protesters at 2020 ReOpen NC event

Raleigh Police captain instructed of “PPE” to “back up claim” of a public health hazard despite no officers wearing PPE prior to encountering protesters

Footage of police actions on April 14, 2020, published online show unidentified female officer commenting on making arrests of ReOpen NC protesters. Image captured from video footage published by Independent Journalist Stephen Horne.

RALEIGH — Footage posted online by an independent journalist shows police in Raleigh discussing tactics for arresting ReOpen NC protesters in 2020 as well as joking about COVID-19 PPE use to “support” the idea the protest was a “public health hazard.”

Independent journalist Stephen Horn tweeted out a video containing clips of police interactions prior to the arrest of a single protester, Monica Ussery.

Horn’s tweet contained a link to a longer video where two unidentified law enforcement officers are seen joking around about how ReOpen NC protesters told Raleigh Police Captain Dedric Bond to “go pound sand” after Bond had told protesters they would be arrested if they didn’t disperse.

“They basically told him [Bond] to go pound sand,” an unidentified female officer says in the video. “So we’re going to go arrest some motherf**kers. Alright, let’s go.”

The unidentified female officer then asks with a laugh, “Do we have to mask up?” The male officer wearing the body camera from which the footage was taken responds, “We don’t have any.”

Later in the clip, officers talk about how they think the protesters will leave after one or two protesters are arrested. The officer wearing the body camera then asks, “What are they doing wrong?”

“What I want to do is make an example out of [noise interference] and what I’m hoping is that as we start locking up a few of these agitators that the rest will just automatically disperse,” Bond said during an address to the officers present.

Bond is also seen in the video telling officers that there had been “a long conversation with Lorrin Freeman and when all is said and done and you see the videos that are already online and everything, it’s obvious that we can’t allow that to happen.”

Lorrin Freeman is the district attorney for Wake County.

The captain continued, saying they knew there was another event planned for the following week and suggesting arrests might stop further protests. He also says he and Freeman discussed avoiding protesters who may have kids with them.

“We already got the Intel that they’re planning to do this again next Tuesday,” Bond said. “So, I think this is the opportunity to get it right this time and hope that we won’t, uh, have to go to the same thing next Tuesday.”

The full clip published by Horne shows over a dozen officers surrounding Ussery immediately before her arrest.

The full clip can be viewed below.

In a transcript of some additional footage, Bond told the officers that he, the state capitol chief, and the legislative chief “just had a conversation with Lorrin Freeman to make sure we were all on the same sheet of music on our plan of action.”

In the transcript, Bond went on to say that “Lorrin Freeman was cool with the matter and the manner in which we were going to do it and the fact that we were going to proceed with it at all.  So we got the blessings from everybody… uh, the secretary of state is cool with it.”

The video also shows Bond telling arresting officers to be sure they were wearing “PPE” despite neither Bond nor the dozens of officers in attendance wearing a mask or gloves.

“So, make sure we’re having proper PPE equipment on and addressing them,” said Bond. “That will support my claim that this is a public health hazard.”

Footage of Ussery’s arrest does not show Ussery being Mirandized and Ussery told North State Journal that at no time was ever read her rights. She said that it was later explained to her she was being “merely detained.”

Ussery was arrested during the first ReOpen NC protest held on April 14, 2020, in a parking lot near the General Assembly by Capitol Police Officer Derick Proctor. She was charged with two misdemeanors; one for allegedly violating Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order 121 which barred gathering in public spaces and ordered citizens to stay at home and one for trespassing.

The charges against Ussery were dismissed and expunged in February of this year. The footage tweeted by Horn had been denied to Ussery and her attorney throughout her two-year-long court battle.

Ussery told North State Journal that law enforcement claimed there was no footage due to their request coming after the time period an agency is required to retain such footage.

During the course of the more than two-year legal fight, law enforcement changed their story on the footage multiple times, at first giving her attorney a single clip and then later giving her attorney three gigabytes of footage.

Ussery told North State Journal that not all of the footage they asked for was turned over.

When her charges were resolved and dropped, the judge hearing her case placed a gag order prohibiting her from sharing it with anyone outside of those legally representing her. At that time, Ussery told North State Journal that she was seeking to have the gag order removed.

“I believe we would have gotten through [the criminal case] a lot better and quicker had I been allowed that body cam footage prior to my first case,” Ussery told North State Journal in an interview earlier this year.

A Give Send Go campaign has been set up for Ussery to pay legal bills: https://www.givesendgo.com/14thamendment

Ussery had no comment on the footage released by Horn. North State Journal reached out to Horn and he said “Neither RPD nor the DA’s office has reached out” to him about the footage.

About A.P. Dillon 1255 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_