New details are emerging about the woman beaten savagely by a CHP officer Tuesday, as the California Highway Patrol pledged to launch a full-scale investigation into the shocking incident which horrified the nation when a video taken by a motorist who witnessed the beating went viral. The clip was played on news broadcasts around the country.
While the woman’s name was not released, she is said by her family’s attorney to be a great-grandmother who is currently being treated at a mental health facility in South Los Angeles. Her family is not being permitted into the facility to visit her, said lawyer Caree Harper, adding that there was no justification for the CHP officer to punch the woman in the face at least 10 times until a plainclothes officer intervened and handcuffed the woman.
As video of the incident shows, the woman was wandering barefoot and clearly confused near the entrance to the busy I-10 Freeway on La Brea Avenue when the CHP officer approaches her. The officer tackles the woman when she tries to walk away, then with his gloved right hand, rains punches down on the woman’s face and head as she holds up her hands in a desperate effort to protect herself.
The scene looks less like an arrest and more like a UFC mixed martial arts match.
Harper declined to say why the great-grandmother was walking on the freeway because, she said, the case should be about the officer’s actions alone.
“We are not going to let this woman be on trial,” said the lawyer. “We’re going to turn the attention on the wannabe MMA cop who repeatedly punched her as she was lying on her back.”
Harper added, “She’s not just some animal. She has an aunt, a sister, a brother, a father, and a great-grandchild.”
The woman did not report any injuries from the beating, according to CHP Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn, who also said that the CHP has already put a team on investigators onto the beating case.
“We are known as an agency that really polices itself,” O’Quinn said.
Journalist and Director of the National Alliance for Positive Action Earl Ofari Hutchinson acknowledged that the CHP “has had a very good track record in terms of community relations.” But that generally favorable record, Hutchinson said, is what makes the brutal beating seen in the video “so shocking.”
Hutchinson called for the federal government to investigate the beating, in addition to the CHP’s own internal inquiry.
O’Quinn said that CHP won’t make a ruling until investigators learn what sparked the officer’s violent actions.
“I can say that the tape only shows a small part of what transpired. There are events that led up to this,” he said.
But Harper said that given what the video shows, the context doesn’t matter.
“There is no justification for the way that he savagely beat her,” Harper said of the CHP officer. “He’s the one that should be in a mental health facility.”