New emergency transmissions detail response in downtown Charleston riot

Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County officials released recordings from the Consolidated Dispatch Center detailing how law enforcement agencies responded to downtown riots in May.

The 6.5 hours of audio condenses approximately 13 hours of real time into the recording.

City officials said the audio consists only of radio transmissions of a channel specifically set up for the protests on the night of May 30. The recording revealed when protests turned to riots, starting around 8 p.m. with different groups of people.

"If you have less-lethal, deploy it. If you're at King and Calhoun, deploy less-lethal if it's warranted," one officer said.

Over the course of the night, multiple law enforcement agencies responded. Some can be heard on the recordings, strategizing a way to push rioters out of the peninsula.

They can also be heard making calls to deploy tear gas and make arrests.

“There are some people boarding up their businesses between King and Market but there’s also some stragglers rolling around that way,” one officer told another in the recording. “We want to make sure there isn’t anybody looting, breaking anything, or doing any more damage.”

No “stand down” calls are heard during the recordings provided.

During Wednesday’s public safety committee meeting, Charleston officials reviewed the details about that night, calling it horrific.

According to city officials, a combined total of 238 officers were in service to respond to the protests and riots on that date. Since that time, 74 arrest warrants have been issued.

"They were attacked, my citizens were attacked as well," Mayor John Tecklenburg said. "They were battling for the street, they were battling for control of the street that night."

The mayor said as they move forward analyzing the recordings, the city will be answering questions and introducing new information. He said the audio will be available to anyone who wants to listen to it.

Live 5 News has asked local agencies to release body camera footage from that night, but they are not required to under the South Carolina’s FOIA.

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