Published February 20, 2008
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced an investigation after a video surfaced showing a Louisiana police officer beating a handcuffed female inmate who later is seen lying in a pool of blood.
The department's investigation comes two weeks after the firing of Wiley Willis, the officer involved in the incident. The Caddo Parish district attorney also will investigate.
"I had an opportunity to view the tape. I was outraged at what I observed," said Police Chief Henry Whitehorn at a press conference. "I immediately ordered an internal affairs investigation. That investigation determined that numerous policy violations had occurred."
Willis, 30, was fired Feb. 5 after a police investigation into the woman's injuries. Angela Garbarino received a broken nose, bruises and several broken teeth during the Nov. 17 arrest on DWI charges.
The video shows the prisoner asking to make a phone call after being arrested for driving under the influence. The officer is shown putting her in handcuffs and then beating her once she is shackled. The camera was turned off for some time and showed Garbarino lying in a pool of blood when it was turned back on.
At one point during the beating, the video is either turned off or the lens is covered. When it comes back the woman is on the ground, semi-conscious, in a pool of her own blood.
An attorney for Willis says Garbarino suffered the injuries during a fall.
The fired officer also received at least two other excessive force complaints, according to a report in The Shreveport Times.
Darlene Atkins, a Shreveport resident, filed a lawsuit in 2006 alleging Willis threatened her son with a gun to his head, according to a report in The Shreveport Times. Willis said he would shoot the boy if family members came closer, according to the lawsuit.
Tomeka Bush, another Shreveport resident, claims in another 2006 lawsuit that Willis seized her car after she filed a complaint against him about the Atkins incident.
The police department did not discipline Willis after its investigation into the 2006 incident. The city denied Willis acted inappropriately.
The lawsuit states video shot by Willis’ patrol car camera was available to the police department for review. Bush said the department investigated but did not discipline Willis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.