Alabama man accused of throwing ‘chemical agent’ canister back at police during protest

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A north Alabama man is accused of throwing a chemical agent container back at police after it was deployed during a protest in Huntsville on Wednesday, authorities said.

Patrick Joseph McCool, 52, was arrested Friday and charged with disorderly conduct in connection to the Wednesday incident, Huntsville Police Public Information Officer Lt. Michael Johnson told

Authorities said McCool picked up a chemical agent canister and threw it back at police, who had deployed the container to disperse the crowd protesting the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died after an officer put his knee on the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

A group of residents had peaceably protested during the day, but when the permit for the gathering expired, police asked the crowd to leave, WAFF reported. Police called the nighttime protests an “unlawful assembly,” the television station reported.

When the officers deployed the chemical agent and activated it, McCool allegedly ran toward the canister, picked it up and threw it back, WHNT reported.

Police said the crowd that evening had become unruly, the television station reported. Huntsville police said that included making threats at police, throwing objects, blocking traffic and refusing to leave the area, WAAY reported.

“At the time, the chemical agent was activated and being used to assist in dispersing an unlawful assembly that had already displayed evidence of civil disobedience as well as dangers to public safety,” Johnson said in a statement. “HPD will always support the citizens right to peacefully protests but it will hold those accountable that violate any other citizen’s constitutional rights."