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N.C. police chief apologizes after video shows officers destroying medic tent set up for protesters

The Asheville Police Department's police chief said he was "truly sorry" for the incident and it is "something we can learn from."
Police officers destroy water bottles at a medic tent set up for protesters in Asheville, N.C., on June 2, 2020.
Police officers destroy water bottles at a medic tent set up for protesters in Asheville, N.C., on June 2, 2020.Ashevelle Citizen Time via Imagn

Police officers in Asheville, North Carolina were seen on video damaging supplies and stomping on full water bottles at a medic tent that was set up for people protesting the death of George Floyd.

In the video captured Tuesday by the Asheville Citizen-Times, police in riot gear and holding shields surround other officers who are seen stomping on cases of water and pouring water on the ground. An alley is littered with damaged snacks and medical supplies.

In the video, an officer announces, "This is the Asheville Police Department, the curfew is in effect, please leave the area peacefully."

A bystander asks if what the officers are doing is peaceful, as a woman tells them that they are wasting supplies.

The police department said in a statement that the officers destroyed the water bottles at the medical station because during protests water bottles have been thrown at law enforcement. Officers were also searching the station for "potentially dangerous objects, such as explosives," the department said.

"The supply station was not permitted by the City of Asheville and was located on private property, without the permission of the property owner," according to the police statement. "The actions involving the supply station occurred following multiple warnings, and after the 8 p.m. city-wide curfew."

But Sean Miller, a UNC Asheville student and the head of communications for the medical team, told NBC affiliate WRAL in Raleigh that the medics had a verbal agreement with the police department to be there after curfew.

“A few minutes after 8 o’clock, we saw a SWAT team coming at us,” Miller said. “They immediately, when they approached, they said, ‘We’re Asheville Police Department and you guys need to leave.’ They grabbed us by the shoulders and pushed us out of the alleyway where we were trying to provide medical support.”

Miller said they lost about $700 in supplies.

Police Chief David Zach later issued a video statement, saying he was "truly sorry" for what happened.

"Tuesday's incident is something we can learn from," he said Thursday, adding that within the next few weeks he's going to share restructuring changes in the department that will "bring community back into community policing."