Walnut Creek police says mutual aid officer did not say what many thought they heard

The Walnut Creek Police Department said it is reviewing and investigating a number of incidents that happened during protests for George Floyd, including cell phone video that has caused controversy over what an officer is heard telling protestors.

The video was taken Monday in Walnut Creek by a demonstrator who among a group of people that made their way onto the roadway and Interstate 680. The cell phone video shows an armored vehicle being driven by law enforcement officers. An officer can be heard over a speaker, telling people to move out of the way. The video was published on a public Instagram page and has been viewed on Twitter more than 2 million times.

People on social media said it sounds like the officer said, “If you do not move, you will be dead.” The Walnut Creek Police Department said the officer actually said, “If you do not move, you will be gassed.”

Lt. Tracie Reese with the WCPD, said the officer works at a neighboring agency and was providing mutual aid. She declined to name the agency where the officer works.

“There was obviously a lot of chaos at the scene from the different passersby that were videoing it, but the body worn camera we released yesterday is clear,” Reese said.

The body worn camera was part of a YouTube video sent to KTVU. In the video, an officer can be heard saying, “If you do not move, you will be gassed. Move out of the way.”

The incident was among a handful that followed a peaceful protest of roughly 3,000 people for George Floyd. Police said a group of demonstrators eventually broke off and overrun CHP officers to get onto Interstate 680. Police said some became aggressive and CHP called Walnut Creek police for help.

“They were quickly surrounded by protestors,” Reese said of CHP. “We also received 911 calls from people who said their cars were surrounded and needed immediate assistance.”

It’s why the armored vehicle, called an MRAP, was used to clear the area. Officers deployed tear gas after protestors ignored multiple calls to move off the roadway. Police said one officer was hurt by a projectile, a protestor was hit by an object and injured, and another protestor was bitten by a K9 and arrested after throwing something at an officer.

Reese said all the incidents, including use of force tactics like deploying tear gas, are under investigation.

“When you just look at an incident that is captured in a five second video clip, it doesn’t provide you with the full scope of the amount of people and the unrest the officers were experiencing on the freeway,” Reese added.