Video of pregnant woman’s arrest goes viral
(CNN) — An officer’s body cam video shows what the ACLU alleges was a wrongful arrest and the wrestling to the ground of an eight months pregnant black woman after she got into an argument with a white woman outside a school in Barstow, California.
“I’d say it’s pretty horrifying because the parent is dropping off her second-grade daughter (and) got into altercation with another parent,” Jessica Price, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said of the video, posted online by the group. The women were upset with each over a driving dispute.
“A lot of people are going to look at this and going to say there is some level of racial profiling and bias going on here,” Price said.
The city of Barstow, however, said police acted properly in the January arrest of Charlena Michelle Cooks of Barstow, though a charge of resisting arrest against her was dropped.
“It is apparent that Ms. Cook actively resisted arrest,” the city statement said.
The city also disputed the ACLU’s racial characterization of the incident.
“This incident was in no way racially motivated, as implied by the ACLU,” the city said. “Barstow is a racially diverse community, as is our Police Department, and we affirm our Police Department’s commitment to protect and serve all of our residents.”
Barstow police said they are conducting an internal review.
“Once the department was made aware of the incident, we initiated an internal investigation, and it is ongoing at this time,” Lt. Mike Hunter said Thursday.
That police investigation started on Tuesday, five days after the ACLU posted the video online and issued a news release about the incident and that of another arrest of two brothers who, like Cooks, declined to identify themselves to police.
The city agreed to end “stop and identify” arrests and paid a $30,000 settlement to the brothers after an ACLU complaint, according to the civil liberties group and the two brothers.
The ACLU is supporting legislation in California that would require police to disclose racial profiling data collection.
“We know how many shark attacks that happened every year, but we do not know how many police racial profiling incidents that happen each year. We’re not studying whether police departments have racial disparities in their interactions,” Price said.
CNN’s Stella Chan, Jason Kravarik, and Sonya Hamasaki contributed to this report.