WASHINGTON — The US Park Police and fellow law enforcement agencies continue to state that neither tear gas nor “stinger ball” grenades were used to clear protesters outside Lafayette Park on June 1. That’s despite a WUSA9 investigation revealing physical evidence gathered on the scene by our crews.
“USPP officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park," Park Police Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan continues to say.
But now, video first reported by The Washington Post reveals federal Bureau of Prison officers, identified by their insignia, were holding the launchers required to fire the tear gas canisters WUSA9 gathered on the streets.
The video further shows one officer, from an unidentified agency, carrying what appears to be an OC natural tear gas canister. We can tell because of the orange marking on the canister, which a former military weapons expert told WUSA9 marks OC canisters.
Neither the Bureau of Prisons nor US Park Police would comment on the video.
Analyzing WUSA9 video from the scene shows federal officers, including US Park Police, were prepared for tear gas. Most officers can be seen wearing gas masks right before WUSA9 reporters watched canisters getting launched on Pennsylvania Ave and 17th Street. When WUSA9 crews were picking up gas canisters on H and 17th a few minutes later, these Park Police officers were still wearing gas masks.
The canisters WUSA9 collected included this canister for artificial CS tear gas, again something the US Park Police said it, nor any of its assisting agencies, ever fired.
Georgetown University medical professor Ranit Mishori said OC and CS gas can put the medically vulnerable at risk.
"People with lung disease, asthma, COPD, or young children can have long-standing harmful effects from this gas," Dr. Mishori said.
The DC chapter of the ACLU added the US Bureau of Prisons to their lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump Administration, the Park Police and the DC National Guard on behalf of some of those medically vulnerable. They include a 9-year-old boy brought by his mother to what his family thought would be a peaceful protest.
“When this cloud begins to dissipate, people start running, and people start fleeing the area," Mishori said. "And when that happens, oftentimes there’s an effect of a stampede, people fall and injure themselves."
Video obtained by the Washington Post shows US Park Police officers, identifiable by uniform, on H Street near 16th Street rolling a Stinger Ball Grenade at protesters.
WUSA9 collected a Stinger Ball grenade remnant on H and 17th minutes after it was released. It sprays rubber pellets at high velocity, and its label shows it had natural OC gas inside.
US Park Police denied they used Stinger Ball grenades, even after WUSA9 showed them our evidence. We have now sent them video of their officers throwing one, but Park Police has not yet responded with a comment.
WUSA9 is pressing for answers because of people like this woman visiting from California. Her hip was wounded by a police pepper ball last Monday outside Lafayette Park.
WUSA9’s Mike Valerio gave her Milk of Magnesia to comfort the pain in her eyes after running through police tear gas.