ORLANDO, Fla. – As George Floyd protests continue to rock downtown Orlando night after night, new body camera videos released by the Orlando Police Department provide an inside look at the occasionally violent confrontations between officers and demonstrators.
Although thousands have gathered to express their outrage over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pinned his knee to his neck, the protests across Central Florida have primarily remained peaceful with authorities saying that the violent acts and instances of looting and vandalism typically occur late at night after most people have already gone.
Though the 26 different clips come from three different nights, they all paint a similar picture of how things went down during the protests.
On Tuesday in the heart of downtown Orlando, more than 2,000 protesters marched through the streets. While many chanted or waived signs, others hurled insults as they passed the officers on their bicycles.
“Get a better job,” one man yelled.
“Be a firefighter, actually help people,” a woman said immediately after.
Things took a turn at about 10 p.m. when officers attempted to disperse the crowd, and told them that those who violated the curfew could be arrested.
“We are peaceful,” the protesters chanted back in reply.
As the chant ended, the video shows objects hurled toward the officers. Police department officials said those items were rocks and water bottles.
In retaliation, the officers deployed at least five tear gas canisters, one of which a protester kicked back at them.
Though the officers are wearing protective masks, the footage shows they were not immune from the effect of the gas. At least one officer appeared to have a reaction and on Sunday, when demonstrators moved onto Interstate 4, an officer appeared to have an even more serious reaction.
Video from that night showed a group of OPD officers on bikes dodging a water bottle thrown by protesters.
“Watch the bottle,” an officer yelled as she deflected with her hand.
In another clip, also recorded on Sunday, officers took cover behind an OPD SUV surrounded by officers on bicycles wearing gas masks.
The lone officer not wearing a mask ingested some tear gas and began to cough, complaining he couldn’t see.
After the officer put on his mask, he handed off multiple tear gas canisters to another officer to throw into the crowd on I-4. The heavy smoke that filled the interstate was tinted with red and blue police lights.
Eventually, the officer used the air conditioning vents of his patrol car to blow on his face to relieve the effects of tear gas. He offered advice to use the same technique to a passing I-4 construction worker who complained about the tear gas.
“Let’s load up again, yeah, I’m good,” he said, instructing an officer to fill up some backpacks with more canisters.
In a six-minute clip from that same demonstration, OPD bike patrol officers were on an I-4 on ramp where tear gas was seen in the distance along with a traffic jam due to the protest and police activity.
During that video, several objects were thrown at the officers.
“Look out, rocks,” one of the officers said.
“Launch a God (expletive) canister at that (expletive),” another officer said.
The objects did not appear to strike any officers.
In response, several officer threw tear gas off I-4 onto a nearby street where the objects were coming from.
On Saturday, the tension started before nightfall when protesters moved onto State Road 408.
A group of protesters were stopped by OPD officers on bicycles from walking from a downtown on-ramp onto the highway but then sat down and started chanting. Eventually, the group turned back down the ramp toward downtown.
A 30-minutes video form Saturday shows what happened with the protesters who did make it onto the highway, blocking traffic for several hours.
The body camera video showed protesters with signs that read “I can’t breathe” and “Make racism wrong again” facing off with the officers on the expressway while others yelled “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
About 16 minutes in, the crowd began to run when tear gas canisters were deployed. Separate footage from a different officer’s camera showed protesters grabbing the canisters and throwing them right back at the officers.
The chaos continued in the video as officers used their bikes to create a barricade to force the protesters to retreat all while smoke was billowing down the road.
In the video, an officer could be heard coughing and hacking as he tried to help with the effort to form a line with the bicycles.
At the 20-minute mark, the same officer and another were captured pouring water onto their eyes to help with the adverse effects of the tear gas.
Shortly after, he’s heard telling a Florida Highway Patrol trooper that protesters are trying to flip a patrol car down below on Anderson Street.
Minutes later, after the officer rode his bike off the expressway and the rain began.
“Ah. This (expletive) is reactivating with the (expletive) rain,” he said, referring to the tear gas in his eyes.
The footage ended with dozens of officers wearing masks and holding protective shields standing outside Orlando Police Department headquarters.
To see all of the unedited footage, click here.