911 callers describe woman on 10 Feeway before CHP officer struck her
Marlene Pinnock, left, with her attorney, Caree Harper, during an August interview in Los Angeles.(John Hopper / Associated Press)
Hear the full audio at the bottom of this post.
At least eight people called 911 on the evening of July 1, saying a woman was walking along the shoulder of the 10 Freeway and acting erratically.
"She has no shoes on," one caller said.
"She's just standing there with her arms in the air," another said.
A California Highway Patrol officer was called to the La Brea Avenue exit, the agency said, to help the woman -- identified by her attorneys as Marlene Pinnock, a 51-year-old grandmother. That officer was later videotaped punching Pinnock as she lay on the ground.
The video, which was posted on YouTube and aired repeatedly on television, has prompted outrage, calls for criminal charges against the officer and an investigation by the CHP.
On Friday, the CHP released to The Times nine minutes of 911 calls the agency received related to the incident. The first call mentions a woman near the Fairfax Avenue exit; the seven others put her near the La Brea Avenue exit.
"There's a woman walking on the freeway, going into the freeway, just walking barefooted," one woman said. "She kind of goes back and forth. And it's getting darker so they might run her over."
The callers described the pink dress Pinnock was wearing and purse she was holding. Many reported she was only wearing socks on her feet. Most callers said they didn't see any vehicle nearby that might belong to her.
"Doesn't look like she's doing too good," one caller said.
Two of the callers mentioned trying to help Pinnock: One woman said she pulled her car next to the woman to ask her something, but that Pinnock started walking faster. Another said she tried to pull over to help, but there was too much traffic.
"Honestly, I caught her out of the corner of my eye and I was like, 'Whoa, that's weird,'" the caller said. "And then I couldn't get over -- I was several lanes over. I wanted to get over to like, help her off the highway or something."
The 911 calls released do not mention an officer at the scene. CHP officials said they did not receive any 911 calls after the officer made contact with Pinnock
A CHP incident summary said that when the officer arrived, the woman ignored him and instead walked “into the traffic lanes.” She then became “physically combative,” the report said, and “a physical altercation ensued.”
The video shows the officer pinning the woman to the ground and punching her at least nine times.
The CHP has said the officer was trying to keep the woman from hurting herself or others by walking into rush-hour traffic.
Pinnock was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Her attorneys have not commented on why she was on the freeway that evening or provided more information about her mental health, although some community leaders who spoke at a Thursday news conference acknowledged she was mentally "impaired."
"Why was she on the freeway?" Pinnock's attorney, Caree Harper, said Thursday. "Well, why was she punched so many times?"
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, after meeting with L.A. civil rights activists Tuesday, told reporters he was "deeply concerned" by the video. The incident, he said, had "wounded" his agency.
Farrow pledged a thorough investigation, saying the CHP had asked Los Angeles police, L.A. County prosecutors and the U.S. attorney’s office for “support and assistance.” The inquiry will probably take weeks to complete, he said.
“We have a significant issue on our hands that we have to deal with,” Farrow said. “And we are going to deal with that.”
Farrow said all CHP employees recently underwent new mandatory training regarding their interactions with people who may have mental health issues. The training, which he described as “very, very contemporary and very innovative,” was concluded June 30.
The officer involved would have had the training, Farrow said.
Farrow said the officer was now on an out-of-field "administrative assignment,” but declined to comment further about his history, saying only that he was a "relatively young" member of the department.
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