LOS ANGELES – Civil libertarians are calling on the California Highway Patrol to conduct a full investigation into an officer who was videotaped repeatedly punching a woman he had pinned on the side of a Los Angeles freeway.
The CHP said the woman was walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles, endangering herself and people in traffic, and the officer was trying to restrain her. The woman had begun walking off the freeway but returned when the confrontation occurred.
The video shows Marlene Pinnock, 51, struggling and trying to sit up while the officer punches her in the face and head until an off-duty law enforcement officer appears and helps him handcuff her.
Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said officers can only use force when reasonably necessary to overcome force or danger posed by a subject. He called the video disturbing and said it raises serious questions about the officer's actions.
Attorney Caree Harper said she's preparing to file a lawsuit on Pinnock's behalf in the coming days alleging federal civil rights violations.
"The minute his fists repeatedly hit her face, the lawsuit virtually started writing itself," Harper said. "Frankly, I think the officer was angry because he looked like an idiot chasing a grandmother and he wanted to make her pay."
CHP Sgt. Denise Joslin wouldn't identify the officer but she said he's on desk duty during their investigation. She said a CHP commissioner will discuss the process of the investigation with community and civil rights leaders Tuesday.
"The CHP is committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation to obtain all of the facts and evidence surrounding the incident," Joslin said in an email. "We ask for your patience as we complete the detailed investigation process."