Video of pregnant woman’s arrest goes viral

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(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.

8 comments

  • Melinda

    He said a crime wasn’t committed. So I don’t understand why it had to go this far. So why didn’t he ask the white lady for her Identification

    • Desie

      There was no reason for him to put his hands on her in the first place…and he didn’t ask the white bitch for any ID and if a crime isn’t committed he was in the wrong and should be suspended without pay. The black woman wasn’t acting in any way that should have brought that on by the cop so it was done mainly because of her race and you seem to be just as bad as he is.

  • Desie

    I’m sorry but usually I get pissed when they start screaming discrimination but in this case I have to agree, this was wrong. If there was no crime committed then he had no reason to start asking her for ID and not the white bitch. Plus the fact that there was no damage to her car makes me wonder if she was even telling the truth in the first place. Placing a pregnant woman onto the ground (which I can’t see how you could do this gently)on her stomach should get him in trouble to begin with, and secondly she did nothing to be arrested for, oh I forgot she was black.

  • Malika Franklin

    She would not be resisting if she wasn’t being wrongfully arrested. It’s like George Zimmerman accusing Travon of “resisting” b/c he resisted being treated like a stalked animal, or the Nazi’s complaining that the Jews were resisting being taken to a concentration camp…he sounds German/Austrian maybe…hmmm…sounds Neo-Natzi to me… The FBI has intelligence stating that White Supremicist groups have infiltrated MANY POLICE DEPARTMENTS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

  • Larry

    For me this was a civil incident, improperly handled by the Police, which should cost the city of Barstow, California a pretty penny for civil rights violations beginning with false arrest compounded by trumped up “resisting arrest” charges. From what I can see, it happened in a parking lot not a public street. When the Police officer recounted the complaint to “Michelle” the black woman, he never actually witnessed anything except the non-damage of the blond woman’s car. The Blond woman never signed a civilian arrest form in front of the black woman for what she alleged happened to her at the hands of the Black woman( or for that matter anywhere on the video) so the police officer had no reason to arrest the Black woman. If in fact a civilian arrest form was signed later, it was wrongfully done because a civilian arrest form can not be used a warrant for an arrest after the fact, it must be done before the arrest so that should the arrest be defective the accusing civilian is legally liable not the police . At the time of the arrest, the police officer never said what offense he was charging the black woman (probably because he himself didn’t know) so when she screamed “why are you putting handcuffs on me”? …she was well within her rights to know and the failure to declare the charges by the police officer is in fact a violation and confirmation of a false arrest.

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