Officer punched woman on highway; family wants him punished

Los Angeles TimesJuly 5, 2014 

— The family of a woman thrown to the ground and punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer is asking that the two officers involved in the incident be punished, the woman’s attorney said Saturday.

“She’s not just some animal,” said attorney Caree Harper, who declined to name the woman. “She has an aunt, a sister, a brother, a father and a great-grandchild.”

CHP officials launched an investigation Friday after video of the altercation was broadcast on television news outlets.

The video, shot by a passing driver, shows the woman walking on the shoulder of the 10 Freeway near the La Brea Avenue exit when a CHP officer on foot catches up with her, spins her around and throws her to the ground. As he struggles to subdue her, the officer can be seen on the video punching the woman at least eight times in the head while she is pinned on her back by his weight.

A plainclothes CHP officer appears and helps the other officer pin her to the ground at the end of the video.

The extent of the woman’s injuries was unclear, but CHP officials told media at a Friday news conference that she was not injured and that she was undergoing a mental health evaluation. The woman’s name is not being released, CHP officials said.

The woman is being housed at a mental health facility at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles and doctors are not allowing the family to see her, Harper said.

“There is no justification for the way that he savagely beat her,” Harper said. “He’s the one that should be in a mental health facility.”

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. They would not identify the officer, but told assembled media that they would conduct a full investigation.

“We will leave no stone unturned,” said CHP Assistant Chief Chris O'Quinn.

The women’s relatives have not contemplated a lawsuit yet because they haven’t been able to determine her condition, Harper said. She declined to say why the woman was walking on the freeway, saying that nothing could justify the officer’s tactics.

“We are not going to let this woman be on trial,” said Harper. “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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