Black leaders in Los Angeles are calling for a federal Civil Rights investigation of a California Highway Patrol officer's beating of a homeless African American woman at the side of the 10 freeway in Mid-City.
The cop's barrage of fists July 1 was caught on video (below). Author Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable told reporters that the officer's actions that day constituted "a civil rights violation."
He and others have also called for a meeting this week between community leaders and CHP Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow. Political activist Najee Ali says the meeting is now on:
The woman, who is believed to be mentally ill, was allegedly thrown to the ground by the CHP officer after he responded to a report of someone walking in traffic on the 10 freeway near La Brea Avenue.
As seen on video, the woman does not appear to comply with the officer's demands to surrender, but after she's on her back he pummels her with his gloved right fist multiple times.
A plain-clothes officer comes up from behind and helps the CHP cop restrain the woman. A motorist captured the violence on video.
The CHP's initial response to the media was that it was too early to come to any conclusions:
As a matter of policy, every time there is a use of force by our officers, there is a review conducted to determine whether the use of force was appropriate. That will be done in this case, however, since there is an ongoing investigation, it would be premature to comment on this specific video segment. After the investigation is completed it will be reviewed at multiple levels within the Department.
The CHP’s officer’s conduct in punching an unarmed, apparently non-resisting citizen on an L.A. freeway was shocking and yet another glaring example of the use of excessive force. We have called for a fast track civil rights abuse investigation by the Justice Department and the suspension of the officer pending the probe.
The CHP has so far withheld the name of the officer involved.
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The family of the woman has retained the services of an attorney.
[Update at 4:11 p.m.]: The ACLU of Southern California also wants to see a "full investigation." The civil liberties group's local executive director, Hector Villagra, had this to say today:
The ACLU of SoCal calls for a full investigation into use of force by a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer on Marlene Pinnock. We understand that in this incident, the CHP officer was responding to a call of a woman walking along a freeway, and the woman's state of mind was unclear. Officers are authorized to use force only when reasonably necessary to overcome force or danger posed by a subject. But disturbing video raises serious questions whether, in those circumstances, it could possibly be reasonable for the CHP officer to pin Ms. Pinnock to the ground and punch her repeatedly. The CHP must conduct a full investigation and report the results to the public. We hope the CHP’s investigation and the civil lawsuit already filed by Ms. Pinnock help identify problems and avoid any similar use of force in the future.