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Lawsuit filed in LA woman's pummeling by patrolman

Calif. Highway Patrol Officer Accused Of Police Brutality
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A woman seen in a video being pummeled by a California Highway Patrol officer alongside a Los Angeles freeway filed a civil rights lawsuit Thursday.

The lawsuit that attorney Caree Harper filed in federal court on behalf of Marlene Pinnock names the commissioner of the CHP, the unidentified officer in the July 1 video and other officers as defendants.

The now-viral video recorded by a passing driver shows Pinnock, 51, being repeatedly punched as she's straddled by the officer.

The lawsuit claims excessive force, assault, battery and a violation of Pinnock's due process rights. It states that Pinnock "suffered great mental and physical pain, suffering, anguish, fright, nervousness, anxiety, grief shock, humiliation, indignity, and embarrassment" and seeks monetary damages to be determined at trial.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow told The Associated Press that he had not yet seen the lawsuit and the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation. He has met with community and civil rights leaders in Los Angeles multiple times since the incident and has pledged that the agency's internal investigation will conclude in weeks rather than the usual months.

"We do have a good history at taking a look at our processes, procedures and conduct of our employees," Farrow said. "That's never been questioned until today."

The CHP has said Pinnock was walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles, endangering herself and people in traffic, and the officer was trying to restrain her. Pinnock had begun walking off the freeway but returned when the confrontation occurred.

Harper said Pinnock remains hospitalized with head injuries. The CHP hasn't released the identity of the officer, who had been on the job for 1 1/2 years; he's on desk duty pending completion of the internal investigation.

Nine drivers called 911 to report Pinnock before the beating, according to recordings the CHP released Thursday in response to a public records request by The Associated Press. The callers worriedly told operators the woman was barefoot on the shoulder or attempting to cross lanes of traffic.

One caller said she appeared high or drunk. Another said she appeared "loaded."

Earlier this week, CHP investigators seized Pinnock's medical records and the clothing she was wearing during the incident. She claims in the lawsuit that the CHP's actions were an effort to shift blame to Pinnock by "misusing the criminal justice system to obtain privileged and private information to discredit (Pinnock) ... or circumvent the discovery rules in civil rights violation matters."

Farrow couldn't confirm the search warrant Wednesday but told the AP: "I don't think the CHP is trying to put her on trial or make it an issue about her. What I'm looking at is entirely about the circumstances, we all saw what happened. Our job is to find out the why and the how."

The incident has drawn outrage from U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who called it police brutality and demanded the officer be fired, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Join the discussion

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susiegraymb0210 July 17 2014 at 10:59 PM

The officer should no longer be employed by any agency. This was not a mere misstep. This was severe brutality when none at all was warranted. If that size man can not subdue and arrest a small women = no business wearing the uniform. He is a disgrace to the department and the public who saw his violent outburst. You cannot be certain what he does when the cameras are not rolling. I hope she wins millions.

Flag Reply +92 rate up
18 replies
war3saw July 17 2014 at 10:30 PM

And law-enforcement wonders why we have no respect for them.

Flag Reply +83 rate up
23 replies
dws51564 July 17 2014 at 11:22 PM

There is no justification for punching a women when you have five cops standing around. Spare us the excuses. Flip her over put the cuffs on and put her in the car. Hog tie her if you have to but punching is abuse.

Flag Reply +70 rate up
12 replies
shopfile66 July 17 2014 at 10:50 PM

People high or intoxicated can fight violently and often feel no pain themselves. Many do not respond to pepper spray and tasering them could be fatal. So what is a cop supposed to do when someone fights violently? Let them go? If he did she could have been hit by a car or caused an accident. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Flag Reply +55 rate up
46 replies
jgesselberty July 17 2014 at 10:49 PM

Nine, read it, nine, drivers called 911 to report this lady. We see only one piece of this story, by an obviously biased media.

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13 replies
MAD_DAWG1 July 17 2014 at 11:45 PM

Do what the officer tells you to do .
Or dont do anything to deserve a beating

Flag Reply +45 rate up
24 replies
bigred8690 July 17 2014 at 10:18 PM

When a black person is hit by a cop, rule #1 is to jump to conclusions. #2 demand justice before the facts are known; #3 get blood out of a rock.

Flag Reply +39 rate up
8 replies
somewhatamazed July 18 2014 at 12:04 AM

So an Officer responds to numerous 911 calls about a "drunk", "high", "loaded" woman wondering around on the interstate and walking around traffic. He attempts to get her out of traffic for her own safety, she refuses, confronts the officer, resists arrest and gets a beat down. So what? She's lucky she wasn't charged with disobeying and resisting, and assault on a Police Officer.

From the looks of it, the majority of you posters would have rather CHP not responded to the 911 calls, until after the old woman wondered into traffic and was hit by a car and killed. Nice job folks!

Flag Reply +39 rate up
26 replies
jose a. jimenez July 17 2014 at 11:55 PM

remember the police has the right to do anything they please its the the way the laws protect them... and you wonder why folks hate police. there's no stopping the police our government allows it..

Flag Reply +22 rate up
5 replies
mgt0331 July 18 2014 at 9:17 AM

Stop stealing cars. Stop drinking and driving. Stop the gangs. Stop shooting each other. Stop drug use. Stop beating you wife. Stop abandoning your kids. GET THE MESSAGE. THEN WE DON'T NEED COPS, MORONS.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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