OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland police officers have been disciplined following the deployment of tear gas and other less-than-lethal projectiles at last summer's George Floyd protests, KTVU has learned.
In addition, the use of force reports into what occurred one year ago have also been completed and "discipline has been administered," according to police spokeswoman Johnna Watson, who sent KTVU an email on Monday.
This is the department's first acknowledgment that there were missteps taken during last summer's protests over the death of George Floyd.
Separately, the civilian-led Oakland Police Commission's "Community Police Review Agency," which has its own investigative arm, found numerous sustained findings of policy violations stemming from last summer's protests.
CPRA Executive Director John Alden said that discipline was also ordered in these cases, which range from failure to supervise, excessive use of force, failure to accept complaints and Miranda violations, to name a few.
He said that these findings and discipline are private under the police officer bill of rights.
The discipline by the chief and the civilian board would be the same and run concurrently if both parties agree.
For the last year, civil rights attorneys and some city leaders have called out the police behavior, saying that officers violated city policy and a court order, prohibiting them from using tear gas and fire off specialty munitions as there was no proof of imminent danger, among other things.
Police, by law and court order, must use de-escalation techniques first, before deploying such harmful, although less-lethal, agents and tools. And the department's own policy places special restrictions on the use of dangerous weapons such as flashbangs and tear gas precisely because those breaking the law might be mixed with peaceful passersby, along with legal observers and journalists.
Despite the acknowledgment, the contents of those reports and what discipline was meted out, and to whom, were not revealed.
Watson said Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong will hold a news conference this week to explain more.
How much will be revealed is yet to be determined.
A police transparency law, SB 1421, which took effect in January 2019, mandates the release of information to the public if officers cause great bodily injury.
It remains to be seen whether Oakland police consider the injuries suffered during last summer's protests as rising to that level.
Jasmine Gaffett suffered these bruises at a May 29, 2020 George Floyd protest in Oakland.
Toshua Sears was injured after getting tear gassed at an Oakland youth rally in honor of George Floyd on June 1, 2020.
Dozens of protesters have alleged in at least two federal lawsuits that they suffered bruising and even temporary blindness as a result of getting hit with toxic chemical agents and the equivalent of rubber bullets during at least two protests last summer, on May 29 and June 1, 2020.
Watson's email on Monday came an hour after KTVU published a story online saying that it's been a year since the June 1, 2020, George Floyd protests outside Oakland Technical High School, which was organized by teens.
A group of about 1,000 people broke off from that main rally and headed down to police headquarters. Protesters yelled at police and someone was seen throwing a water bottle over the barricade, but dozens of witnesses told KTVU that the crowd was not violent.
Police were on edge that night, because a few days earlier, during a May 29, 2020, protest, protesters set fires, threw Molotov cocktails and separately, a federal agent was killed by a member of the Boogaloo movement in an undisputably chaotic night.
Armstrong, who was deputy chief at the time, also said that the June 1, 2020, protest got out of hand. He held a news conference at the time saying that people were throwing rocks at police and "preparing Molotov cocktails."
To date, police have not yet provided evidence of those Molotov cocktails and dozens of witnesses have told KTVU that no one was causing imminent danger to police at 7:45 p.m. that night, 15 minutes before curfew, when police threw tear gas into the crowd.
For the last year, Armstrong has promised transparency and has told the community on several occasions that if the police made mistakes, he would let the public know.
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky