CHP Calls for Calm Via Facebook Amid Rallies by Activists After Caught-On-Camera Confrontation

Family members of the woman in the video say she has bruises and "lumps the size of plums," but the CHP says she was not hurt

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Civil rights leaders confronted a California Highway Patrol official demanding answers about a video that went viral showing one officer repeatedly punching a women in the head on the side of the 10 Freeway. Ted Chen reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from University Park Monday, July 07, 2014.

    The California Highway Patrol took to Facebook on Monday and asked for patience hours after civil rights activists gathered at the Los Angeles CHP office to demand answers about an officer's caught-on-camera confrontation with a woman on a Southern California freeway.

    The video surfaced last week on YouTube after a witness posted cellphone footage he captured of the July 1 incident. The CHP officer can be seen straddling a woman on the ground and repeatedly hitting her in the face as commuters drive by on the 10 Freeway west of downtown LA.

    Civil Rights Activists Want Officer "Held Accountable"

    [LA] Civil Rights Activists Want CHP Officer "Held Accountable" After Video
    Civil rights activists gathered at the California Highway Patrol office in Los Angeles on Monday to demand answers about questions surrounding a CHP officer's caught-on-camera confrontation with a woman on a Southern California freeway. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at Noon Monday, July 7, 2014.

    "We want to find out whether she was charged or not. Number two, what are the policies and procedures?" said activist Najee Ali of the Project Islamic Hope. "Because to us, the officer wasn't trying to make an arrest. He was beating her excessively, so we want to find out why that happened."

    CHP Deputy Commissioner Ramona Prieto met the activists outside the office.

    "This just happened, and the questions that you are asking are the questions that I want answers to," Prieto told the group.

    The CHP also addressed concerns and asked for patience in a message posted on its Facebook page Monday afternoon.

    "We understand everyone’s concerns regarding the YouTube video of a CHP Officer from the Central Los Angeles Area," the post stated.

    "Please know that a complete and thorough investigation is underway to obtain all of the facts and evidence surrounding the incident. The CHP has a long history as a professional and respected law enforcement organization. We ask for your patience as we complete the detailed investigation process."

    The woman in the video, identified as Marlene Pinnock, was held on a 72-hour involuntary mental health evaluation after the incident.

    Pinnock has three prior convictions between 2004 and 2013, including lewd conduct, simple battery, and assault with a deadly weapon, police and court officials confirmed to the NBC4 I-Team. As of Monday, she has not been charged in the caught-on-video incident.

    Pinnock's daughter and attorneys said she was injured with bruises on her upper body and "lumps the size of plums" after the incident, while the CHP said she was not hurt.

    "Today was the first day I was finally able to see her and talk to her," Pinnock's daughter Maisha Allum said at a press conference Monday. "And I just thank God that she's alive."

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California released a statement Monday demanding a "full investigation" into the officer's use of force.

    "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," the statement read in part.

    "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," the statement continued.

    Attorneys for Pinnock's family announced plans on Sunday to file a civil lawsuit, but did not name who they would be suing.

    The CHP has placed the officer on desk duty, but will not release his identity. CHP officials first said the officer was on paid administrative leave but later confirmed to NBC4 that he is working from a CHP office. 

    "We want to make sure that (the officer) has some anonymity at this point in the investigation," Prieto said.

    Activists have called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted, as well as demanded a federal investigation.

    "In my opinion, they have done much better, but unfortunately, we have rogue officers who give the departments a bad name," Ali said. "That's why we have to hold them accountable."

    A meeting between activists and CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow is set for Tuesday.

    Tena Ezzeddine contributed to this report.