Woman beaten by CHP officer settles, but activists 'want him in prison'

Attorney of woman who got $1.5M settlement for being punched by CHP officer: 'We want him in prison'

Civil rights activists plan to launch a new campaign Thursday for the criminal prosecution of a California Highway Patrol officer caught on video repeatedly punching a woman on the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles, saying the officer's resignation and a $1.5-million settlement do not go far enough.

The CHP announced Wednesday that Officer Daniel Andrew was stepping down and that the agency had agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by the woman, Marlene Pinnock, 51.

The settlement will establish a special-needs trust for Pinnock to "provide a mechanism for her long-term care," according to a statement released by CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

But the CHP announcement did little to quell civil rights activists, who have called the incident a horrifying case of excessive force.

"Our call has always been for L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to prosecute Andrew for beating Pinnock," Project Islamic Hope Director Najee Ali said in a statement. “The settlement with her changes nothing. If anything it makes a prosecution more urgent now than ever." 

Pinnock's attorney, Caree Harper, said there were two conditions that were key to the negotiations: That her client be taken care of "for life," and that the officer who hit her lose his job.

"If they did not do that, the case was not going to settle yesterday," Harper said. "It's important that the community be protected against that officer."

Andrew's attorney could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. 

The settlement, Harper added, was finalized Wednesday night after about 10 hours of negotiations.

Prosecutors are determining whether to charge Andrew in connection with the July 1 incident. Last month, the CHP announced he had been stripped of his duties and could face "potentially serious charges."

Harper said Thursday that she would continue to push for criminal charges to be filed, adding that prosecutors have reached out to interview her client.

"We want him in prison," Harper said. "I'm not done."

Civil rights activists plan to announce their new campaign to have Andrew prosecuted at a news conference Thursday at the site of the beating, which occurred at the 10 Freeway near LaBrea and Adams boulevards.

The July 1 altercation generated national attention after a video shot by a passing motorist surfaced.

It shows a uniformed CHP officer pinning the woman to the ground and repeatedly punching her, landing at least nine blows.

There has been some dispute about what prompted the altercation. The CHP has said the officer was trying to keep the woman from walking into traffic. CHP logs state that she ignored commands and became "physically combative."

But Pinnock said in an interview last month that she did nothing to provoke the officer. Pinnock said she was walking to a place to sleep that night when the officer came up behind her. She said that as she then screamed, he "pulled me back and threw me on the ground."

Pinnock was hospitalized after the incident and placed on a mental-health hold.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said shortly after the video surfaced that he and others were "horrified by what we saw" and had scheduled meetings with top CHP officials seeking a commitment of "zero tolerance by any officers in the use of excessive force against civilians.”

In a statement announcing Andrew's resignation and the $1.5-million settlement, Farrow said that when the incident occurred, he promised a full investigation and "swift resolution."

"Today, we have worked constructively to reach a settlement agreement that is satisfactory to all parties involved," he said.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


9:05 a.m.: This story was updated to include comments from Pinnock's attorney, Caree Harper.

This story was first published at 6:49 a.m.