The woman’s name is Marlene Pinnock, and she is a 51 year-old homeless woman who was walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles when the confrontation took place. Apparently, she was walking through traffic and potentially endangering herself and the drivers around her. The highway patrol officer, whose name has not yet been released, confronted Pinnock, tackled her to the ground, pinned her down, and proceeded to rain down 10-15 punches directly to her face and head.
She had no weapons, and during the confrontation all she did was plead for the officer to stop what can only be called a deliberate assault. The officer did not stop hitting the woman until a second man, later identified as a plain clothes policeman, came over to the scene and they both handcuffed the woman.
Luckily, a passing driver, David Diaz, recorded most of the incident on his smart phone and provided the video to several media outlets including the AP. The video went viral on YouTube once it was put up. According to Diaz, he arrived as the woman was walking off of the freeway, and she only turned around after the officer shouted something at her. Diaz said that “He just pounded her. If you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head. Blows, really serious blows. And this is ridiculous to me. I find it hard to believe there was no other remedy in this situation.”
Pinnock herself says that the officer was striking her as hard as he possibly could. “He was bamming me in my temples with all the strength he had.” All she said to the officer was “Stop, I didn’t do anything.” In addition to being beaten in the face in broad daylight on a busy freeway, the officer violently ripped her dress and exposed her bare buttocks during the beating.
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed with the help of attorney Caree Harper, who is representing Pinnock. Harper has been very clear, “We’re asserting that it, in fact, was attempted murder. His actions were extreme, outrageous, and intentionally humiliating. He had her on the side of the road with no underwear on, her buttocks was out.”
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has launched an internal investigation and placed the unnamed officer on desk duty for the time being. CHP commissioner Joseph Farrow said that the video only recorded a part of the confrontation, and it would need to be known “what was going on the officer’s mind.” The medical records have been seized by the CHP investigators while Pinnock was in still in the hospital. Her attorney pointed out that “She suffered a traumatic head injury, how can you give away files about someone injured… to the very people who beat her?” A good question indeed. If this woman really was mentally confused and dangerously wandering in traffic, it could be justified to yank her out-of-the-way in order to keep her from being struck by a car, but clearly the mimicking of a MMA match on this woman was completely out of line.
This is yet another good example of why the use of uniform-based cameras, keeping track of officer behavior, would serve to protect people and prevent police abuse. Had Diaz not filmed the incident, the result would likely have been a simple dismissal of allegations of inappropriate force, but based on the video there is evidence of that inappropriate force.