RICHMOND, Va. — Following several days of standoffs between the Richmond Police Department (RPD) and protesters, RPD Chief William Smith tendered his resignation at the request of Mayor Levar Stoney, at which point he was reflexively tear-gassed by his former subordinates.
RELATED (article continued below):
- Ballenger Motorsports has been providing PPE gear (at cost) to first responders, hospitals, and the general public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about their project here.
“YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED TO DISPERSE!” shouted Lt. Miles Waverly to Smith before launching a canister of CS gas at him. “REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE PREMISES OR YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED!”
The change comes at a time of pitched faceoffs between protesters and law enforcement nationwide, and some in the department have accused Stoney of basing his decision on politics, not departmental need.
“Chief Smith was a good man,” said one officer who asked not to be identified as he pepper-sprayed Smith at point-blank range. “And you hate to see bad things happen to good men. He made us all feel like he had our backs and that he wouldn’t let politicians dictate our jobs. This was disappointing.”
The officer affirmed his position by admitting his actions had less to do with the man and more to do with the status.
“Well see, he was a cop, and cops don’t get gassed,” the officer, dressed in full tactical gear, continued. “But now? As soon as he became a civilian and took one step that I didn’t tell him to, I knew he was aggressive, and I had to gas him. He was clearly a threat to my safety.”
A 16-year veteran of RPD, Smith humbly accepted the mayor’s decision and was reported to have said, “I did not see that coming.”
Immediately after addressing the officers formerly under his command, Smith was besieged by pepper bullets and, though unclear, was allegedly quoted as saying “My eyes! My eyes! Shit! I didn’t see that coming either!”
Repeated pleas for mercy were met with stone silence and more tear gas. It was unclear as to whether the tears falling from Smith’s eyes were a reaction to the toxic chemicals or if it was an emotional reaction.
Smith’s replacement, Maj. Jody Blackwell, wished his former superior well as he exited. “All citizens will remain behind the barricade!” Blackwell demanded. “AND GIVE MY BEST TO THE MISSUS! CALL YOU TOMORROW!”