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CHP, rights activists to meet again over officer's punching of woman

CrimeAmerican Civil Liberties Union
CHP leaders to meet with civil rights leaders for 2nd day following violent arrest caught on video

California Highway Patrol officials are expected to meet with Los Angeles civil rights activists for a second consecutive day after a video emerged online last week showing an officer repeatedly punching a woman in the face during a confrontation on the 10 Freeway.

The video, which has been played on television over the last few days, shows Marlene Pinnock walking on the 10 Freeway near the La Brea exit. The CHP officer, who has not been identified by the agency, followed Pinnock on the shoulder — an attempt, the CHP said, to keep her from walking into traffic and endangering herself and others.

The officer ordered Pinnock to stop, according to a CHP document. Repeatedly, she ignored those commands, and then began walking "against the flow of traffic and into the traffic lanes," the document says.

On the video, the officer can be seen attempting to hold her arm. Pinnock appeared to try to twist away from him. At that point, the officer took her to the ground and began hitting her with his black-gloved fists, as she covered her head with her arms. After a matter of seconds, an off-duty officer helped subdue Pinnock, but not before the first officer landed at least nine blows.

On Monday, civil rights activists met with CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto in Los Angeles to voice their concerns.

The Rev. William D. Smart Jr., head of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Alliance, was among those at the meeting. He said he and others are "enraged" by the video.

“We’re very angry. Our community is highly upset over this -- that a black woman was being hit that way, treated that way,” he said. “There’s a rage in our community right now.”

He said he was pleased with Prieto’s response.

“We wanted to get a gauge of how seriously they were dealing with this, and we see that they’re looking upon this extremely seriously,” he said.

CHP leaders were expected to meet Tuesday afternoon with Smart, civil rights leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson and others. Hutchinson said he wants the CHP to provide to timeline for the CHP’s investigation of the incident and to ensure that the officer is held accountable.

CHP officials said the officer has been assigned to desk duty.

Pinnock was taken to an hospital for a mental health evaluation and remained there Monday, one of her attorneys said. Attorney John Burris said it was unclear why his client was on the freeway that evening.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California echoed calls for an investigation into the incident. In a statement issued Monday, executive director Hector Villagra acknowledged the woman had been walking along the freeway and that her "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 said. "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."

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna and @katemather.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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