Leaked: Read CPD Captain Victor Mitchell memo...
One thing I will say about the Independent Review is that I am not confident that this is a total set of facts. Police were undoubtedly in over their heads, but there is a lot in the review that can be questioned. This review had no real claws. No one was under oath. It relied heavily on interviews. The review barely includes anything related to the state response. The review is a good base to build upon though, so it shouldn't totally be discounted either. Yesterday, a memo written by Charlottesville Police Department Captain Victor Mitchell which was originally sent to Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones was forwarded to the entire City Council. The memo was apparently leaked and subsequently made the rounds online. The memo is an attempt to correct aspects of the independent review which Mitchell believes are "factual inaccuracies and misquotes". Read the full memo below.
Maurice Jones email to City Council and Victor Mitchell email to Maurice Jones:
I received the following message, located below, and the accompanying attachment from Captain Victor Mitchell of the Charlottesville Police Department last night. He asked that I forward them along to you.
All the Best,
I hope your weekend was not a total bust. I spent the majority of today compiling notes related to what I perceive as inaccuracies or misquotes in Mr. Heaphy's report. I would like to point out that I am not in disagreement with many of his recommendations and would submit that we already do many of the things he is suggesting. I also do not dispute the fact that we need to do better. This was an unprecedented event that we will learn from and improve on.
As we discussed in our meeting before the holidays I believe that Mr. Heaphy came into this with a preconceived outcome and directed the review to meet that end. I base this on the tone of the questioning and the questions asked. He employed what I would refer to as a blitz attack. He would make a statement and then follow up at the end with isn't that true or tell me about that. There was no break in the questioning. They came in rapid fire sequence not giving you time to recover from the previous question. When I would attempt to explain answers he would become dismissive if it was not in line with what he was looking for. I have conducted interrogations throughout my career and felt like I was on the receiving end throughout the two sessions I had with him. The first session lasted 4.5 hours and the second 5 hours. In the first there were no breaks and the second one we only took 1 break of about 10 minutes towards the last hour. That was only because some in his group needed to use the restroom.
One example of this blitz attack is in reference to a checklist we created after the events to document things we had accomplished. I did not include this in the attachment because he did not mention me specifically in the report as it pertained to the list. He showed me the list I had created and asked me to tell him about it. As I was explaining the creation of it he became annoyed and started asking me about the chief directing me to make it appear the list was created before the rally. I told him that was false and that I had never been directed by the chief to predate anything. He brought up a meeting that was attended by Capt. Shifflett and Lewis and indicated that Captain Shifflett told the other two of us that the chief had directed him to do it. I told him that Captain Shifflett did say he was under the impression that the chief wanted the list backdated. Shifflett said he felt like thats what the chief wanted. I told Captain Shifflett that the chief has never asked me to do it and if he did it was not going to happen. I asked Dave if the chief had specifically asked him to do it and he responded that thats what he felt the chief wanted but he also was not going to do it. When the chief came in for the meeting we all discussed the list and there was never anything brought up about backdating either list to make them appear they were created before the events.
In talking with Dave since he has indicated he just misunderstood the desires of the chief in reference to the list. I would also find it peculiar for the chief to ask Dave to backdate a list for something that happened on July 8 and not ask me to do the same for the event on August 12. Mr. Heaphy had it in his mind that this occurred and he would not let go of it.
Everyone in the police department believed that the review from Mr. Heaphy was going to be just that a "review". We were led to believe that the purpose of the review was to figure out how to improve and better prepare for future events. After interviews with Mr. Heaphy it was apparent to me and others that this was nothing more than a witch hunt. The only question was how many witches was he hunting.
There has also been great concern about what was released in the report as far as statements made by individuals. Had there just been a summary report and recommendations that would have been fine. He went further by going into statements made by individuals and identifying them. All this in an effort to discredit specific people especially the chief.
Everyone was compelled to give statements to Mr. Heaphy and his team. Therefore, this was an investigation not a review. It being an investigation should have required Garrity warnings to all personnel. All statements should have been protected from release. If this were truly a review the proper thing to have done would have been to give those interviewed an opportunity to put there thoughts together and give written responses. The point of a review is accuracy and not trying to trip people up by blitzing them with one question after another.
There is much more I could write but will leave it at this for now. I would strongly request that you share this with council members. I believe it is important that they understand there are issues with this report.
Thank you for the time it takes to go over this. If you have any questions I would be happy to meet with you.
Captain Victor G. Mitchell
City of Charlottesville
The actual memo:
"Factual inaccuracies and misquotes
It wasn’t that I disagreed. The issue was could we deny the permits based on the current permitting process. It was my opinion that we couldn’t. This was based on advise from the City Attorney’s Office. I wanted Mr. Heinecke to understand that we would not be able to provide officers at the two parks. However, on the day of, we did provide a unit whose responsibility it was to move between the two parks.
Not that is matters which one of us did the recording other than to point out inaccuracies in the report. It was I that recorded the meetings on both occasions. The meeting he refers to in the report actually occurred on August 7. There was another meeting on August 8 that involved all three captains and Mr. Kessler. The Chief did not attend that meeting. In that meeting we again tried to get Mr. Kessler to agree to the location change of McIntire Park.
I cannot say one way or another what other officers may have told Mr. Heaphy about what I may have hoped. What I can say is I expressed to other supervisors I did not believe the city would prevail in its efforts to move the rally.
Although I believed it to be ill advised to move the rally at this late juncture, I along with the other Captains and Chief tried to convince Mr. Kessler at the two meetings referenced above to do just that.
This paragraph is worded in such a way as to cast the wrong impression. Training and expectations of officers are two different things. Although it would have been beneficial to conduct more robust training to include field exercises I submit that there was training for officers conducted. Shift Commanders routinely direct or conduct training at roll calls. There was a stronger effort for this training leading up to both the July 8 and August 12 rallies. Mr. Heaphy was very dismissive about these efforts.
The expectation of what was expected of officers in the zones was given at every briefing held. Although zone commanders were not at every briefing we did have briefings for them specifically and outlined the expectations. Zone Commanders received the operations plan early on. The plan layout changed many times. The expectations of what officers were to do never changed.
One of the primary purposes of the meeting on August 11 was to bring all the Zone Commanders and Sergeants from the VSP squads together. Again, expectations for what officers and commanders were to do were discussed. I had directed that all officers be on post early on the morning of the 12th so that Commanders and Sergeants would to able to ensure everyone was on the same page.
I had scheduled a briefing for all participants of the rally for the early morning hours of the 12th initially. We had even gone so far as to reserve the COB auditorium. Captain Lewis suggested that we not have an all hands briefing. She thought it would be more beneficial to have a meeting just for supervision and decision makers. I saw merit in this suggestion and moved forward with this in the plan.
In this paragraph Mr. Heaphy makes it appear that we just dismissed the opportunity to engage with VSP in their training efforts. He states that we cited scheduling constraints but does not go into any detail about why we were unable to attend.
The Chief and I made plans to attend one of these sessions. VSP had indicated the desire for the Chief to have the opportunity to address all VSP personnel. VSP advised that part of the training would involve legal updates concerning issues we may face during the rally. I suggested and they agreed with representatives from our Commonwealth Attorneys Office attending.
The scheduling conflict was pretty significant. The Chief learned in the days before our visit of the push by City Council to move the event to McIntire Park. We were now faced with planning for two venues and literally had no time to spare. The Chief had to prepare for a closed door meeting with Council. Command staff now had to prepare for the rally on two fronts.
He talks about declining the offer to train with the VSP Mobile Field Force. Mr. Heaphy fails to grasp or just dismisses the fact that the CPD Mobile Field Force was only to act as a rear guard to the VSP force. VSP had the proper numbers to act as a field force.
He further talks about this being the first time Lt. Gore would be leading a MFF into action. He states that Lt. Gore received training because of Major Pleasants scheduled vacation. I recognized the need for additional commanders to be trained in MFF tactics before either of the summer rallies. I also know for a fact that Captain Lewis had broached this subject with Chief Longo in the years before he left because I was one of the Lt’s she was proposing attend.
I approached both the Deputy Chief and Chief about securing training for MFF. My concern at the time was that Donald Trump had been elected President and he has a residence in Albemarle County. If he decided to visit that residence and protesters came, they would not be in front of his house, they would be on the downtown mall or blocking Emmett St. or West Main St. Both agreed and we started looking for training opportunities.
We secured a school in North Carolina and four supervisors were chosen to attend. Two Lieutenants and two Sergeants. The class ended up being canceled by the sponsor. We ended up having to send supervisors to Georgia for the training. MFF training was very difficult to come by. The school we utilized was the only one offering the training we were looking for at the time.
It also needs to be pointed out that no one in CPD has experience in leading a MFF into action to include Major Pleasants. In my 32 years at this agency we have never utilized a MFF to any degree except for training. We have on occasion had a contingent standing by at smaller protests, but they were never utilized.
We recognized our limited ability in regard to MFF. We recognized the lack of training we had received. This is the reason we requested such a strong presence of MFF’s from VSP. They are a large enough agency to put together MFF squads and train on a more frequent bases. Again, this is why we were to act as rear guards to VSP.
Mr. Heaphy stated that I resisted the suggestion of using water filled barriers along 4th St. I didn’t resist anything in regard to the barriers I only pointed out that CFD would have issues with the barriers because of limiting access to the mall by fire apparatus. When Paul stated they could easily be moved by fire trucks I was fine with it.
The switch of the sides for UTR attendees occurred days before the event. It was not on August 11. This was changed because of us being informed that UTR attendees would be coming from that direction. I am also not the one who designated areas. Captain Lewis was in charge of mapping out the area. This map changed multiple times mostly based on her suggestions. I did tell her on multiple occasions we needed to pick a plan and stick with it. A lot of the changes she made were due to losses of facilities and or changes necessitated by planning for two venues. Everyone needs to understand that it is not unusual for there to be many drafts for operations such as this.
On the 11th the park was set up so there was no separation because Mr. Kessler did not have a permit for Emancipation Park. The permit was approved for McIntire Park. The changes to the set up occurred later in the evening because the Federal Court issued an injunction granting him access to Emancipation Park. It was at this time we moved barricades to what we had planned in the event the injunction was granted.
VSP never insisted that the parking lot across from the park be barricaded off. They requested an area in the lot for use as a media staging area. The owner of the lot requested that we keep people off his property. Based on that request we ended up installing barricades because some felt it beneficial to control that area more.
The plan, designed by Captain Lewis and myself was set up to have officers behind barricades. It was never meant to or relayed to commanders for officers to remain behind the barricades at all times.
The barricades were to be used as a buffer. There were gates placed at intervals of 20 ft. or so. Commanders were instructed to have officers go out in teams and make arrests for illegal behavior. One of the purposes of the barricades was to give officers a safe zone to come back to after making an arrest where others could not follow.
Pg. 97 and 98
In the paragraphs where he talks about arrest guidance he lays out the correct instructions given in the plan in the first two paragraphs. In paragraph 5 he states that rather than engage the crowd and prevent fights “our plan” was to declare an unlawful assembly and disperse the crowd.
Its clearly stated what the plan is in the first two paragraphs. It does not state anywhere that our plan is to not do anything until an unlawful assembly is declared.
Captain Reeves did raise a question in a planning meeting about my comment in reference to their officers responding to incidents in McGuffy and Justice Parks. He did not object to anything he just stated we would talk off line. That talk never occurred. He did contact me later and state they would be drafting a formal MOU outlining what their officers would and would not respond to.
Captain Worsham did not tell me that IMT would attempt to formalize the planning efforts and they would only get in the way. What he said was “be careful bringing in VDEM. You have to know when to shut the door. He said they are good folks and have a lot to offer but it has been VSP’s experience that their involvement can sometime hamper efforts.” He has had much more experience in dealing with VDEM so I chose to pay attention to his advice.
Although of no significance other than to point out factual flaws Mr. Heaphy’s report states that Kessler contacted Captain Lewis and she advised him to contact UVA PD. This is not accurate. Captain Lewis contacted me about Mr. Kessler’s plans to march. She asked that I call and speak with him. I did and after discovering the march was going to occur on UVA property I told him he would need to speak with them. I told him I would contact the UVA Patrol Lieutenant and have her contact him. I spoke with Lt. Tabler and passed on the contact information and what I knew about the march. She called me a short while later and advised she had talked to Kessler and was up to date on what was occurring. I offered our assistance and she said she would keep us advised.
Mr. Heaphy states that Chief Thomas makes a statement about “let them fight” and supports this by saying it was heard by both Emily Lantz and Captain Lewis. There were a lot of people in the command post. Who else heard this? He specifically asked me if I heard this and I said no. How many others said they didn’t as well?
I can only say that I did not hear the statement. I have no idea whether it was said or not. I just find it interesting that he only mentions two people hearing it and doesn’t give credence to what others may have said.
Parts of the paragraph involving the debriefing are blatantly incorrect. First of all I was the one who reached out to VSP about a debriefing. The Chief wanted an opportunity to meet with our VSP counterparts and discuss what occurred and look for ways to improve. I contacted Captain Worsham and asked if this were possible. He stated his only concern was they had no interest in participating in the review involving Mr. Heaphy. He did not want information making it to Heaphy that we would be discussing in a debriefing. I told him I did not foresee that being an issue, this was not about the Heaphy report. I told him I would contact the chief and verify this and get back to him.
I contacted the Chief and informed him of the concerns brought about by Captain Worsham. He agreed with me about this having nothing to do with the report by Mr. Heaphy and that I could tell Captain Worsham that we had no intentions of sharing what was discussed at the debriefing with Mr. Heaphy.
Mr. Heaphy makes it appear that I indicated this was something that was vetted to the City Manager and he agreed before we met with VSP that he was on board with it.
I never claimed that this was taken to the City Manager and he agreed with it before the meeting. When I had my second interrogation from Mr. Heaphy he asked about the debriefing with VSP within 5 minutes of us beginning. I told him at this point I could not answer questions related to that debriefing. He became very indignant and asked what do you mean you can’t answer questions related to that meeting.
I explained to him that Maurice and the Chief had discussed two meetings that could potentially be off limits in the review. The first being the closed door council meeting and the second being the debriefing with the State Police. It was my understanding that although both agreed there was no legal bases about talking to Heaphy about the debriefing, we had committed to not doing so. The concern was we had made a promise to them and didn’t feel it ethical to go back on it. The City Manager acknowledged that we may need them in the future. The last I heard was that the City Manager was going to think about it and let us know whether to divulge that information.
I asked the Chief in the days before my meeting whether or not Mr. Jones had said we could talk about the meeting. He said he had not heard back from him. Mr. Heaphy was very adversarial and said “well, we will just call Maurice right now and get this straightened out”. He called him and Maurice indicated he never gave permission for us to withhold that information. He stated to answer all his questions about the debriefing.
In reference to the radio patch he states that Sergeant Clark explained that a radio patch had been created to allow the VSP and CPD communications channels to work together, but it was never installed on the morning of August 12. He further states that Captain Lewis recalled him saying it would have just taken a flip of a switch to make it happen but they were never asked. First, I do not recall him making that statement. Second, there was a great deal of discussions amongst VSP personnel regarding why the channels were never patched. They were obviously not on the same page about it being able to be completed.
It was also obvious in the command post that we were operating at a disadvantage because of the lack of being able to directly communicate. Why would anybody have had to been told to flip a switch?"
Two more officers have come out and rebuffed some of the findings of the independent review, Deputy Chief, Major Gary M. Pleasants and Captain David Shifflett.
Captain David Shifflett attached a document much like the one shared by Captain Mitchell.
"Misstatements/Issues contained in Tim Heaphy’s Review DocumentCapt. David W. Shifflett, Jr.
Pg 3 – “CPD planners failed to anticipate the counter-protesters’ desire to disrupt the event by impeding the Klan’s arrival and departure.”
Untrue opinion. CPD anticipated such a response and planned to bring them into the venue as covertly as possible.
Pg. 6 – “produced disastrous results.”
Throughout the report, Heaphy unnecessarily used sensationalized and inflammatory opinionated terminology in lieu of keeping it factual. Above is just one of many examples.
Pg. 13 – “When the July 8 checklist was uploaded to the system created for production of documents to our review team, Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson noticed that it was undated. Ms. Robertson then directed that the checklist and other documents created for our review be dated to reflect the time of their creation and contain a footer that makes clear the document was created for Hunton & Williams for the purpose of the firm’s provision of legal services to the City of Charlottesville. Captain Shifflett then complied with that request and produced a finished checklist with the footer included.”
My recollection is the checklist WAS submitted to Lisa Robertson with the required footer. Related to the documents, I only recall Lisa Robertson directing me to remove the footer from the KKK Operation Plan since it was not a newly created document.
Pg. 39 – “Captain Shifflett told us that CPD and VSP held no joint trainings or exercises, nor was there any “down-chain coordination” among troopers and officers.”
I do not ever recall using the terminology “down-chain coordination”.
Pg. 90 – “It also meant the City’s traffic engineer could not review and approve the plan.”
The City’s Traffic Engineer did review and approved CPD’s traffic plan in advance for the August 12th rally.
Pg. 91 – “Officer Tammy Shiflett, a school resource officer, was available to work after having spent most of June and July recovering from elbow surgery.”
Tammy Shifflett has the same qualifications/training as any other CPD officer and specifically stating her assignment a School Resource Officer was an attempt to discredit her qualifications for the assignment. I do not believe any other officer was referred by assignment in the report. It is also highly is inappropriate and an invasion of privacy to publically release her medical procedure and condition.
Pg. 121 – “When attendees began arriving sooner than expected and tensions rose, Lieutenant Crannis-Curl told Captain Shifflett that she was going “off-plan” and was “not going to send arrest teams into the street.”
I do not recall using the term “off-plan.”
Pg. 145 – “Deputy Fire Chief Rogers, who was in the Command Center, ordered a fire engine to deploy from the CFD Station on Rich Street.”
No such street exists in the City of Charlottesville
Pg. 147 – “Late that evening, the City of Charlottesville was subjected to a cyber attack, which appears to have been the result of phishing e-mails sent to Captains Mitchell and Lewis.”
Heaphy failed to include I was also subject to the same cyber attack, as was Major Pleasants.
Pg. 148 – “Jim Mooney recalled that at the August 17 meeting, Captain Mitchell remarked that they could not have sent in their younger officers into crowds on August 12 for fear that they might have killed someone. Captain Shifflett reiterated that sentiment when we interviewed him.”
Heaphy incorrectly connects my statement to one from Lt. Mooney. Although I expressed my opinion that sending officers into the large crowd would have likely have placed them in a deadly force situation, I do not recall ever stating anything about “younger’ officers.
Pg. 150 - “All four Charlottesville commanding officers corroborated what Crannis-Curl said next. She recalled telling Shifflett that VSP was going “off-plan” and that she was not going to send any troopers out into the crowds to make arrests.”
Who is “she”? According to the report on Pg. 16, Heaphy was not allowed to interview Lt. Curl-Crannis. I again do not recall using the term “off-plan.”
Pg. 158 – “It also seems likely that the insufficient police response on Friday night emboldened people who intended to engage in similar acts of violence on Saturday.”
This is a highly opinionated and unsubstantiated assumption by Heaphy.
Pg. 159 – “a school resource officer stationed at 4th Street NE and Market Street—and she was relieved from that post without any replacement shortly after the unlawful-assembly declaration.”
Again calls the position a school resource officer instead of a police officer. Assignment instead of title in an attempt to discredit the officer’s qualifications.
Pg. 162 – “As VSP ground commander Lieutenant Becky Crannis-Curl told Captain Shifflett early on August 12, troopers were directed not to enter large unruly crowds to make arrests."
Lt. Curl-Crannis never told me if/what she had communication to the Troopers stationed in the Park. I communicated this to Heaphy in my second interview."
Restoring the honor!