Internal Review clears MPD officer of excessive force after pushing woman during protest

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Protesters hit the streets of Memphis one year ago this week in response to the death of George Floyd.

The first protest lasted for hours and ended with police in riot gear and some arrests.

TRENDING: At least 8 people wanted in Parkway Village shootout, MPD says

A woman named Molly went from recording that protest on May 27, 2020, to getting knocked down to the ground with a shield by a Memphis Police officer.

The encounter caught the attention of Mayor Jim Strickland who called on MPD to investigate.

FOX13 Investigates obtained a copy of the final Inspectional Services Bureau (ISB) report into this incident one year later.

We learned a total of five officers were written up for failing to document the force they used while responding to the May 27 protest on Union Avenue.

Officer Antonio Knowlton was accused of using excessive force when he pushed Molly that night.

In the report, she said, “She believed the officer had something emotional going on and hated protestors. She suggested they get some help to deal with their feelings.”

TRENDING: Phase 2 bridge repair plans decided; schedule for reopening could be available next week, TDOT says

Officer Knowlton said the take-down team used their shields to clear the streets. In the report, he said, “His actions during the protest were never out of anger, and his only intention was to clear the street as ordered. He never questioned his actions that evening.”

ISB exonerated officer Knowlton of that charge.

“I’m angered that Memphis police officers are still not being held accountable. I’m angered that they try to criminalize people using their first amendment rights at every chance they get,” said Hunter Demster, community activist.

Demster is friends with Molly who wasn’t able to talk with us. He believes this report is far from justice.

“I think we have to have an outside third party, independent party investigating these reports to misconduct by the Memphis Police Department, I have no faith in this process, I have no faith in MPD,” said Demster.

We showed the video and report to FOX13 law enforcement analyst and retired Shelby County Sheriff lieutenant Mike Collins.

“Could he have done something different, maybe so? But what he did do, it still doesn’t raise to the level of excessive force by the definition in itself,” said Collins.

Collins said the officer’s actions aren’t out of line when you review the totality of the situation which included clearing the streets, hours into the protest. He said the excessive force would have looked differently in this case.

“If there was some other action, for instance if he used that shield to assault her, or kick her or did something more so than what was actually seen in the video, then that would be excessive force,” said Collins.

FOX13 Investigates requested an interview and at the very least a statement from Strickland because again, he was the one called for this internal review.

A spokeswoman said the city doesn’t comment on pending legal matters. But this isn’t a pending legal matter, it’s a closed case and that’s how we have this report in the first place.

When we tried to get a response, but no one returned our phone calls.