Riot- and weapon-related charges against a Lynchburg man, placed following protests that turned unlawful last summer at Fifth & Federal Station and Miller Park, were certified by a judge on Wednesday.
Bryant Lamont Kemper, 39, was charged with possessing a weapon as a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon during a riot, participating in an unlawful assembly and conspiring to incite a riot from the events of May 30 and June 1. Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Bennett dropped the charge of carrying a concealed weapon at Kemper’s preliminary hearing Wednesday in Lynchburg General District Court.
Officers with the Lynchburg Police Department identified Kemper in a video depicting what happened May 30 outside of Fifth & Federal Station, where a peaceful protest by daylight turned tense and violent at night. Both officers who testified said they didn’t see Kemper in person that night.
Officer Nick Kirby said the crowd of people gathered outside the restaurant started yelling and throwing objects in earnest after a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot.
Under questioning from Brad Lindsay, Kemper’s attorney, Kirby said LPD investigated the sound and determined it to be a firecracker. He also confirmed there were people gathered with firearms outside of the restaurant and on the roof, whom LPD Chief Ryan Zuidema and others present that night have said were members of militia groups in and around Lynchburg.
In the video, Kemper can be heard laughing and talking to others at the scene amid yelling and sporadic crashing noises.
“Let them f- — that s- — up peacefully,” the video captures him saying. At a later point, he repeats, “I smell tear gas.”
Officer Nathan Hendrix said he was told by another officer that Kemper was an “agitator” at Fifth & Federal and he had probable cause to arrest Kemper when he responded to a similar scenario at Miller Park the following night. He later added there was not a warrant obtained at that point for Kemper’s arrest.
Hendrix was standing in tactical gear beside LPD’s armored vehicle after the Miller Park gathering had been declared an unlawful assembly when he registered a black Lincoln Navigator — the kind of vehicle Kemper drove — coming toward him to leave the park. The SUV was coming from near the park’s pool, where police had heard reports of shots fired toward Park Avenue, he said.
He shined a flashlight at the vehicle and identified Kemper as the driver, according to testimony, called his name and ordered him to get out. Hendrix said Kemper parked the car and asked what he was being stopped for, after which he grabbed Kemper’s hand through the open car window. Kemper then pulled his hand back, locked his door, and Hendrix said he responded by firing his Taser at Kemper.
Officers then pulled Kemper from his car but continued to struggle with him, Hendrix said, so he stunned him again via his legs. He estimated 20 to 30 seconds elapsed between first yelling at Kemper to stop and stunning him the first time. Officers found brass knuckles in his pocket after arresting him, which Kemper claimed belonged to someone else.
Judge Stephanie Maddox found probable cause for Kemper’s charges to be sent to a grand jury, which will next convene in Lynchburg on March 1. Kemper is held without bond in the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center.