The California Highway Patrol officer seen in a widely distributed video punching a woman on the side of a Southern California freeway last month was relieved of duty and sent home with pay while prosecutors weigh possible criminal charges, officials said Wednesday.
Officials have stripped CHP Officer Daniel Andrew of his badge and gun, effective immediately, CHP officials said.
He has been moved from desk duty to paid time off while prosecutors review his case, said CHP Sgt. Melissa Hammond, a department spokeswoman.
CHP officials forwarded the results of a criminal investigation to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office outlining what they said were "potentially serious charges for the officer."
Civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson believes the decision to relieve Andrew from duty was a partial victory.
"The officer should be fired. And the officer should be prosecuted. One without the other is not justice," Hutchinson said.
Andrew repeatedly punched Marlene Pinnock on July 1 on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway on-ramp in Los Angeles. She was hospitalized for several weeks. She was treated for head injuries and continues to have slurred speech, according to her attorney, Caree Harper.
Pinnock's attorney, Caree Harper, said Wednesday it was about time.
"Finally," she said. "This is something that could have occurred the first week of July. There was a felonious battery that occurred with videotaped evidence. There's not much investigation that needs to be done to show that someone was rendered defenseless and this officer went beyond attempting to detain her."
In an interview after the attack, Pinnock, 51, said she feared for her life.
"He was trying to kill me," she said. "He was trying to beat me to death. He wouldn’t stop."
Pinnock filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last month. She believes Andrew should face charges.
"It does bother me cause if it had been me, I would have been charged. I would have gone to jail had it been the other way around," Pinnock said.
An investigation was launched by the CHP and the District Attorney’s Office to prepare a "thorough assessment" of what occurred that evening.
An NBC4 I-Team investigation revealed details on how the confrontation went down. According to CHP service logs, the first call to 911 came in around 7:11 p.m. According to the logs, Pinnock was on the freeway for at least 29 minutes.
"Everyone asks 'why was she on the freeway?' Why the hell did he kick her ass? Someone ask him 'why did you kick Marlene Pinnock's ass,'" Harper said.
The District Attorney’s Office will review the investigation and decide on the filing of criminal charges against Andrew, the CHP said.
District Attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison confirmed the office received the case, but declined further comment.
Separately, the CHP will also complete an ongoing internal administrative investigation into incident.
"The CHP understands the public’s interest in this case, and it is our desire to be as transparent as possible while adhering to the laws and due process that govern any investigation," Hammond said in a statement. "We value the public’s trust and appreciate the community’s patience as we complete this important process."