The Charlottesville Police Department was ill prepared, not properly trained and devised a “flawed operational plan” for the white supremacist rally that took place in the city on Aug. 12, according to an independent report by the city released Friday, the Washington Post reports. The report, prepared by Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia hired by Charlottesville to assess the city’s response, also criticized the response by the Virginia State Police and the lack of coordination between the two agencies.
“The planning and coordination breakdowns before August 12 produced disastrous results,” the report said. “Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park.” The Unite the Right rally was canceled before it began as opposing factions clashed in downtown Charlottesville while police made little effort to intervene. Later that day, a Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Heaphy called Heyer’s death “the most tragic manifestation of the failure to protect public safety after the event.” He pointed to police decisions that left that part of town abandoned by law enforcement. The report criticized the Charlottesville city council and the University of Virginia for mismanaging decisions related to the rally and to a torchlight procession by neo-Nazis that took place the night before the rally on the university campus.