Civil rights groups to meet with CHP after highway altercation
Marlene Pinnock, left, with her attorney, Caree Harper, during an August interview in Los Angeles.(John Hopper / Associated Press)
A video showing a violent altercation between a woman and a California Highway Patrol officer on the Santa Monica Freeway has sparked an internal CHP probe as well as calls from civil rights advocates for a federal investigation.
Los Angeles activists said Sunday they were planning to meet with CHP officials this week to discuss the case.
The incident, which occurred July 1, was caught on video by a passing motorist on the freeway near the La Brea Avenue exit.
The video shows a woman walking on the side of the freeway when a male CHP officer catches up with her, throws her to the ground and repeatedly punches her in the head. A plainclothes officer can later be seen helping pin her to the ground.
The CHP did not identify the officer.
CHP officials said the video captured only a small part of the incident. The officer was trying to stop the woman from walking into traffic and endangering herself and others, CHP officials said.
“We will leave no stone unturned” in the investigation, said CHP Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said he and representatives of four other civil rights groups have scheduled a meeting with CHP Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the West Los Angeles office in Culver City.
Community activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, said local civil rights leaders also plan to meet CHP officials at their Central Los Angeles offices on Washington Boulevard at 11 a.m. Monday.
CHP Officer Monica Posada said Sunday she could not confirm the meetings.
Both men said they are hoping to ask about CHP policies regarding use of force and potential punishment of the officers involved.
“Obviously, we were horrified by what we saw,” Hutchinson said. “We really want to see a commitment from the CHP to zero tolerance by any officers in the use of excessive force against civilians.”
Hutchinson said he has called on the Justice Department to conduct its own investigation. An attorney representing the family of Marlene Pinnock called for the officers involved to be punished.
“She’s not just some animal,” said attorney Caree Harper. “She has an aunt, a sister, a brother, a father and a great-grandchild.”
Harper declined to say why Pinnock was walking on the freeway but said nothing could justify the officer’s actions.
“We are not going to let this woman be on trial,” Harper said. “We’re going to turn the attention on the wannabe MMA [mixed martial arts] cop who repeatedly punched her as she was lying on her back.”
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