On Friday, a day of sledding on Spruce Street got out of hand, with Morgantown Police responding to what they called “a riot.”
In the aftermath of the situation, police are reviewing statements from every officer involved, as well as looking at body camera footage and surveillance video. They will also review social media videos posted.
“And looking at it administratively from a use of force, did anybody do anything that was not consistent with training, policy procedure, or law, and from there, from the investigative side, we’re also looking at identifying any of the ones that were engaged in some of the most specific acts of violence, such as setting fires, or batteries, where they threw the objects at people or anything like that,” said Chief Ed Preston of the Morgantown Police Department.
WVU Dean of Students, Corey Farris, says action will be taken after all materials are reviewed.
“So, we’ll wait to see what their reviews and their investigations turn up, and if any of those happen to be students, then obviously we’ll call them into our student conduct office and take a look at what rules and policies they violated and take appropriate actions once we know what it is,” said Farris.
Chief Ed Preston says the pepper ball guns used on the crowd meet a very low standard for use of force.
“There was great care taken to not have to use a tremendous amount of force. That’s why the officers took so long to disrupt it. They were giving verbal commands. They were using acoustic devices and a physical presence, in order to break up the activity without anybody having to get hurt,” said Preston.
Preston also clarified what options are at the police department’s disposal.
“Those pepperball guns, despite a lot of public comment, they are not rubber pellets or anything like that at all. They are actually gelatinous shell cases that disperse powder upon impact.They’re not even anything close to like a rubber bullet. In fact, we don’t have rubber bullets, for a clarification point,” said Preston.
Students have taken the initiative to help with cleanup following the incident.
“Over the past couple of days, a group of students have gone out on Spruce Street and cleaned up, had a street clean up and picked up trash and things like that. In some respects, they made a mess, but they also cleaned up their own mess, so I’m certainly happy with that, too,” said Farris.