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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Culver City Patch: CHP's Top Boss to Meet with Activists to Discuss Videotaped Beating

July 8, 2014
In The News

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow met today with a group of community activists in Culver City, demanding action in response to a cellphone video showing an officer repeatedly punching a woman, and he said the investigation would be expedited as much as possible.

"We are wounded from the standpoint that we have a significant issue on our hands that we have to deal with, and we are going to deal with that and we are going to move forward in our investigation to bring closure as soon as we can," Farrow said after the meeting.

Outrage among civil rights groups has been growing since video emerged late last week of the altercation between an as-yet-unidentified CHP officer tackling and then repeatedly striking a woman -- 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock.

The woman's family has already hired attorneys and indicated it plans to pursue a lawsuit.

A handful of activists held an impromptu meeting Monday with CHP Deputy Commissioner Ramona Prieto, and they expressed satisfaction that Prieto was willing to interrupt her schedule to discuss the situation.

"Anytime you have a commissioner leave a meeting, come down to do this on the spur of the moment, understanding the importance of this, that's what we appreciated, that she heard us," Pastor William Smart of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said.

Farrow said he expected the investigation to take weeks, not months.

After today's meeting, Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said he was "gratified" with Farrow's comments.

"Commissioner Farrow made it clear that the CHP has put the investigation on a fast track and will cooperate with other probes, including a possible Justice Department investigation," Hutchinson said. "... Civil rights leaders will closely monitor the pace of the investigation."

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, has called on the Department of Justice to investigate and determine "whether the officer's conduct amounts to a violation of the woman's constitutional right to protection from excessive force."

CHP officials said the officer seen in the video has been reassigned to desk duty.

The arrest took place July 1 along the 10 Freeway at La Brea Avenue. Pinnock was allegedly walking barefoot along a narrow freeway shoulder and occasionally in traffic lanes. According to the CHP, the officer ordered her to stop, but she did not respond.

The officer then got out of his vehicle and stood in front of the woman, but she ignored his commands and continued walking, heading westbound against the flow of traffic and at times into traffic lanes, according to the CHP.

The woman allegedly became physically combative, prompting the officer to place her under arrest, CHP officials said.

"A physical altercation ensued as the pedestrian continued to resist arrest at which point a plain clothes off-duty officer assisted in applying the handcuffs to the pedestrian," according to the CHP. "When asked if she sustained any injuries, the pedestrian did not advise of any nor were any located by the officers at the scene."

A passing motorist recorded the arrest and provided the video to news outlets. It shows the woman on her back attempting to ward off several blows from the CHP officer kneeling over her, before a off-duty officer in civilian clothes ran up and the violence ended.

Family members lashed out on Sunday, saying the officer was throwing "lights-out punches" at the woman while sitting on top of her.

After today's meeting, Pinnock's daughter, Maisha Allums, said she was still astounded at what she saw on the video.

"I can't believe that a CHP officer that was supposed to protect my mom and help my mom beat her like, I can't even say like a dog, because if it was a dog he beat like that, he would have been in jail," she said.

This article was originally published by the Culver City Patch.