Dispatch records from Aug. 4 protests suggest that Portland police officers fired the first "flash-bang" devices into a crowd in order to recover police cruisers surrounded by antifascist protesters.
The newly-released records also suggest protesters first threw projectiles after the first explosion.
A video of the moments just before the first munition exploded with an intense flash of light and loud bang shows officers first spotting the patrol vehicles and warning people in the crowd that if they do not move they will be hit.
The dispatch records, obtained by WW via a public records request, add more detail to the timeline of how police decided to fire the first explosive device.
"Patrol cars stuck in mid of antifa w/o Naito/Col," one call remark reads. "Will use arial [sic] distraction to move crowd back."
Officers then struggled to figure out who was responsible for the patrol cars and whether there were officers trapped in the vehicles. "Nobody in vehs," one remark said.
A police spokesman says it wasn't immediately apparent whether that report—that the vehicles were empty—was true.
"At the time that was broadcast it was unclear if that was an accurate statement and there was a belief there were possibly unaccounted for officers associated with the vehicles," Sgt. Christopher Burley says. Three police vehicles were damaged.
The dispatch record continues:
"Getting info they're trying to destroy the vehs."
"Will launch [aerial distraction devices] momentarily"
"Give announcements, let's move."
Within seconds of that order, officers reported being hit with bottles, rocks and cans. Witness accounts and video of the moment the first flash-bang exploded support the dispatch record's timeline. Many observers, including WW reporters at the scene, saw projectiles thrown after the first police munition exploded.
At the time, police said they thought officers trapped in the vehicles were being attacked. There were no officers in the patrol cars.