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Rock Hill NAACP, law enforcement, community leaders press for patience in arrest investigation

The "Unity For Our Community" briefing comes in the wake of a pair of arrests caught on viral video

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Editor's Note: On July 8, the charge against Travis Price was dropped, and the Rock Hill Police Department announced one of the police officers involved had been fired. The announcements were made the same day the York County Solicitor's Office released bodycam videos showing the viral arrest. 

Original reporting continues below.

The Rock Hill chapter of the NAACP held a press conference Wednesday alongside the York County Sheriff's Office and other community leaders, one week after a viral video captured the arrests of two brothers in a gas station parking lot sparked protests.

The briefing, which has been dubbed a "Unity For Our Community" discussion, took place at noon at Fountain Park. Along with YCSO and the NAACP, religious leaders and elected officials were expected to be present as well.

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The press conference came a week after brothers Ricky and Travis Price were arrested in a gas station parking lot in Rock Hill. In the video, an officer with the Rock Hill Police Department can be seen throwing Ricky Price to the ground and punching him, while Travis is seen pressed up against a white tank. Rock Hill PD says they pulled over Ricky for an improper turn, but found a gun and drugs in his car and arrested him. RHPD also accused Travis Price of trying to interfere in the arrest, but more recently, Travis and attorneys representing him have disputed that claim.

The video captured by a bystander also sparked a call for RHPD to release body camera footage from officers involved in the arrest, but police chief Chris Watts has not done so yet, saying he wanted to talk to more witnesses.

Dorene Boular, the chair of the South Carolina State NAACP Religious Affairs Committee, opened the conference introducing speakers, one of which included Chief Watts. After a prayer, Clinton College president Lester McCorn stepped to the podium, saying a unified community calls for mutual cooperation and accountability. He announced members of the local clergy have joined with elected leaders and local law enforcement to find a path forward together, noting that the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is still investigating and that two officers involved in the arrests are suspended.

McCorn said everyone was grateful no life was lost and still offered prayers to the Price brothers. He also said they had reviewed the body camera footage, but did not wish to pre-empt the family's viewing. He also called for a re-formation of an interracial, interdenominational task force to pray regularly and meet to discuss issues at hand, meet regularly with police and elected officials, and better lead the community together.

Chief Watts was asked to the podium and confirmed to media the body camera footage was shared with leaders several times. He noted the York County Solicitor's Office requested the body camera footage not be released to the public, and stressed the investigation is ongoing. Watts then stepped from the podium, and Rock Hill NAACP president Dr. Norma Gray stepped to the podium.

Gray then addressed the press conference held by attorney Justin Bamberg, one of the attorneys representing the Price brothers. She did offer a reaction, saying it depicted a "volatile scene" and said she believed that was why SLED was investigating: to get more witness testimony and get the investigation further along. She also pressed for the public to allow the investigation to continue so all angles can be further pursued. Gray also acknowledged that it was hard to build trust when a system has typically not offered it, but appealed to the public saying they could trust community leaders like her and other leaders as they worked to better build it. She also likened the Price arrests as a jumbled-up puzzle that needs to be better pieced together.

After further follow-up questions, the press conference concluded with one more prayer calling for unity, trust, and reconciliation.

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