CHP Commissioner Promises Swift Action After Videotaped Beating

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The head of the California Highway Patrol met with community leaders for 90 minutes in Culver City on Tuesday, several days after cellphone video of an officer repeatedly punching a supine woman on the side of the 10 Freeway prompted outrage.

Video shot July 1, 2014, by a motorist showed a CHP officer throw a woman to the ground, straddle her body and repeatedly punch her. (Credit: David Diaz)
Video shot July 1, 2014, by a motorist showed a CHP officer throw a woman to the ground, straddle her body and repeatedly punch her. (Credit: David Diaz)

An investigation into the July 1 incident, which took place near La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, would be speedy and thorough, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.

After the private meeting, Farrow addressed news media, saying he was shocked by what he saw on the video.

"When I saw that video, I was deeply concerned," Farrow said.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable expressed his appreciation for Farrow's words, but said the community would be watching the CHP's actions very carefully.

 "The major concern above everything else: What are you going to do about this?" Hutchinson told the Los Angeles Times. "We don't want to see it brushed off."

The video, shot from a passing vehicle, was posted to YouTube and immediately drew attention from news media, then activists and CHP.

It showed a woman — later identified by her family as 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock, a great-grandmother — walking away from an officer on the side of the freeway. The male officer grabs her from behind, throws her to the ground, straddles her and then begins repeatedly punching her in the face and upper body.

Marlene Pinnock is seen in a 2009 family photo that was provided by her attorney.
Marlene Pinnock is seen in a 2009 family photo that was provided by her attorney.

Another officer then runs to assist the first man, apparently helping to restrain the woman and then lifting her head.

The video did not show what occurred before the beating, CHP Southern Division Assistant Chief Chris O'Quinn noted.

“There were events that led up to this. Until all that’s collected and put into perspective, we aren’t going to be able to make a determination," O'Quinn said.

Pinnock, a transient who had allegedly been walking alongside the freeway and into lanes, was initially hospitalized on a 72-hour mental evaluation, according to CHP. She was not injured, a CHP assistant chief said at a news conference Friday.

Her attorney, Caree Harper, told KTLA on Tuesday that Pinnock remained hospitalized.

Harper, has said she wants the name of the officer to be released.

The officer was placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Farrow, who added that he was prohibited by law from releasing the officer's name.

He was able to confirm, however, that the officer was "relatively new" to the CHP.

Pinnock's daughter said the CHP was not acting fast enough.

"If it was a dog being beaten like that, he would have been in jail," Maisha Allums told reporters Tuesday.

“This lawsuit is virtually writing itself and it started writing itself the minute that officer's fist hit Ms. Pinnock's face multiple times,” Harper said at a news conference Sunday where the family announced it would file a civil rights lawsuit.

In a letter sent to state legislators Monday, Farrow noted the video had “garnered significant media attention” and requests for answers.

“I, too, am deeply concerned about the images I observed and they have captured my full attention,” Farrow said. “I will be meeting personally with members of the Legislature, as well as members of the community in the Los Angeles Area to discuss their concerns regarding this incident and how our process will attempt to address their concerns.”

Some community leaders had met Monday with CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto to discuss the meeting, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We’re very angry. Our community is highly upset over this -- that a black woman was being hit that way, treated that way,” the Rev. William D. Smart Jr., head of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Alliance, told the Times. “There’s a rage in our community right now.”

KTLA's Kennedy Ryan contributed to this story.

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