New police videos show broader view of violent encounter between woman and North Carolina officers
Dec 12, 2023, 1:05 PM | Updated: 1:46 pm
Police released video on Tuesday from an arrest in North Carolina last month showing that before an officer repeatedly punched a Black woman while others held her down, the woman struck an officer in the face and he responded by hitting her back and knocking her off her feet.
The newly released videos provide a broader view of the Nov. 13 encounter at a Charlotte bus stop than the initial bystander videos that were posted on social media. One of those bystander videos showed four officers kneeling and holding the woman down as a fifth repeatedly struck her with a closed fist. As it was happening, bystanders shouted at the officers to stop. After a few seconds, the officers stood and led the woman to a squad SUV with her arms behind her back.
After the arrest, the department said that the officer who repeatedly struck the woman on the ground had been “intentional” about how he hit her in order to get her to comply. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer, who had responded to that day as backup, delivered seven knee strikes and 10 punches to the peroneal nerve in the woman’s thigh — actions that were consistent with his training, Lt. Kevin Pietrus told reporters.
Police body camera footage released Tuesday show that officers approached the woman and a man as they were sitting at a bus stop in front of a Bojangles restaurant. The pair explained that they had just gotten off work, and the woman asked what they had done wrong.
One officer said it smelled like the two were smoking marijuana, to which the pair said they were smoking a legal cannabis compound they had bought from a smoke shop. Marijuana is not legal in North Carolina, but sales of certain types of related products are.
An officer then leaned down, took the man’s arm and said, “Do me a favor, put your hands behind your back.”
The woman moved toward that officer demanding to know what he was doing, and a second officer took her arm and pulled her away from the bus stop bench, telling her to put her hands behind her back. His body camera the fell to the ground and was facing skyward as he pulled the woman by her arm. The woman could be heard screaming “Why are you touching me? Stop!” And as they struggled and moved into and out of the camera’s view, she could be seen striking the officer.
A video taken by a bystander from across a parking lot shows the exchange of punches between the woman and the officer. In it, the bystander could be heard saying, “I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to do that to police.”
In another video, a crowd of onlookers and coworkers of the two being arrested shouted at officers who had gathered around the woman on the sidewalk. “You punched the hell out of a woman like that. How you going to punch the hell out of a woman like that, bruh?” one onlooker asked.
In other videos, an officer could be seen using a knee and fist to strike the woman’s thigh repeatedly as she was being asked to put her hands behind her back while laying on the ground. A chaotic blend of voices grew in the background as more officers arrived. “Quit kneeing her, man! Quit it! Quit it!” an onlooker yelled as police walked the male coworker away.
The man and woman, who was identified in court documents as a 24-year-old Black woman from Charlotte, were both arrested after the confrontation that day. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and she was charged with assaulting a government official. Both were also charged with resisting officers and marijuana possession. All of the charges were later dropped.
The department said that its internal affairs bureau was investigating the encounter, and Jennings speculated last month that other agencies might eventually conduct their own probes. The officer who repeatedly struck the woman on the ground was reassigned temporarily from the patrol division to investigations. A department spokesperson said the department does not release information about officers’ races.
Police Chief Johnny Jennings said at a news conference last month that he understood “the outrage.” He questioned whether officers should have initiated arrests for marijuana use “even though we can,” and whether the woman should have interfered with the man’s arrest and struck officers.
Pollard is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.