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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Church members caught in tear gas during peaceful vigil amid protests

City leaders are promising to investigate several videos of interactions between police officers and protesters over the weekend in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - City leaders are promising to investigate several videos of interactions between police officers and protesters over the weekend in Indianapolis.

In one of those videos, you can see tear gas used during a peaceful protest.

Pastor Brian Lane was leading his congregation from Liberty Tabernacle in a prayer vigil on the steps of Monument Circle around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, ministering to those people and providing comfort.

Then they were caught in the middle of tear gas.

"Right before we saw that gas hit, we were having an amazing time. We felt the spirit hit that part of the Circle," Lydia Watson said.

Watson was streaming the impromptu prayer vigil live on Facebook. She said shortly before 7 p.m., an hour before the county-wide curfew took effect, a small group of people could be seen on Meridian Street throwing things at officers. They believe police shot off tear gas to help disperse that crowd.

"Quickly we found ourselves gasping for air, not being able to see. I looked down on the ground and I saw one of the canisters right in front of one of our sisters that was in a wheelchair that day," Watson said.

"Minister Taquoia, she picked up the mic and began to pray even more, even in the midst of the tear gas," said Watson's husband, Gale.

Their goal was to bring peace to the city.

"We recognize that every person has value, they have worth and so we came to be a calming presence in a city that's in turmoil right now," said Lane.

They hoped to do that with a message of love.

"The church is against racism. We are against discrimination. We are against inequality. We stand behind them in that, but we are also against violence. And we are also against disturbing the peace of our brothers and our sisters," said Lydia Watson.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said video evidence from the scene shows people begin to surround officers, trying to prevent them from arresting someone who was damaging property. Tear gas was not intended for that peaceful protest.

IMPD is also reviewing video of an officer using force on a protester.