NBC 4: CHP "Wounded" After Officer Caught on Video Hitting Woman: Commissioner
The commissioner of the California Highway Patrol called the CHP a "wounded" organization when he met with community leaders and activists Tuesday amid public outrage over an officer who was caught on video hitting a woman in the face.
CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow said he has never seen anything like the video in his more than 30 years in law enforcement.
"I feel it. We're wounded," Farrow said. "We have lost a considerable amount of trust from members of the community down here, and my job is to try to regain that trust."
The video surfaced on YouTube after a witness posted cellphone footage he captured of the July 1 incident. The CHP officer can be seen straddling a woman on the ground and repeatedly hitting her in the face as commuters drive by on the 10 Freeway west of downtown LA.
The CHP has placed the officer on desk duty, but will not release his identity.
"When I look at the California Government code and the Peace Officer Bill of Rights, it specifically says I cannot release the name of an officer involved in an internal investigation," Farrow said.
Activists felt otherwise.
"They have an obligation to the community to release his name," Najee Ali said on Tuesday. "We want to know, does he have a history of past abuse? We can't know that unless we know his name and prior work record."
The woman in the video, identified as 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock, was held on a 72-hour involuntary mental health evaluation after the incident.
Pinnock's daughter and attorneys said she was injured with bruises on her upper body and "lumps the size of plums" after the incident, while the CHP said she was not hurt.
Activists have called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted, as well as demanded a federal investigation.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, D-California, asked US Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday to conduct a federal investigation into whether the officer violated Pinnock's "constitutional right to protection from police brutality."
"The video is truly horrific," Bass said. "I am pleased that the CHP has announced it will investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident and that CHP has invited the US Department of Justice to participate in its investigation. However, I am requesting that DOJ conduct its own investigation into whether the officer’s conduct amounts to a violation of the woman’s constitutional right to protection from excessive force."
Farrow issued his own statement to members of the California legislature on Monday.
"The images captured on this video have garnered significant media attention and requests from legislators and community groups for answers regarding the officer's actions while attempting to arrest a female pedestrian," the statement read. "I, too, am deeply concerned about the images I observed and they have captured my full attention."