California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joseph Farrow announced Tuesday at a meeting with activists, primarily from the black and Latino communities, that his agency would conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the beating of a homeless woman by a CHP officer.
The meeting came after a cellphone video surfaced last week, depicting an unidentified white officer on top of a 51-year-old homeless woman, repeatedly punching her in the face and upper body. According to the CHP, the woman had been walking barefoot along the side of the 10 freeway near La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles on July 1, sometimes entering traffic lanes. A CHP officer responded to the incident and attempted to make an arrest, at which point the woman allegedly became physically combative.
In discussing the incident and resulting video, Farrow said in a statement, "When I saw that video, I was deeply concerned. I was shocked by it."
The CHP Commissioner immediately opened an investigation into the matter and has assembled what he referred to as "one of the best investigative teams." Members of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will be involved. Farrow also stated that he would be seeking a result swiftly, expecting a report within weeks rather than the months that these types of cases can sometimes take. He also said that disciplinary action, if any, will only be taken once the investigation is complete and the facts have come to light. The officer has been taken off the street and placed on administrative duty during the investigation.
The question at this point will be whether the officer used a reasonable amount of force in the situation. Law enforcement officers face tough decisions when it comes to arresting a person who appears uncooperative, but there is a fine line between the amount of force necessary to make an arrest and excessive force that constitutes brutality.
Police brutality brings about civil rights issues and can be a highly controversial subject particularly when race is involved. Though Farrow would not release the identity of the officer who was videoed hitting the homeless woman, due to peace officer privacy statutes, he did say that the officer was young, male and white.
If you are looking for more information on police brutality and the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers, you can visit our page dedicated to this subject: Police Brutality. You can also call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at any time for a confidential consultation and review of your case by one of our legal professionals. If you believe you or a loved one have been subjected to any type of police misconduct, we may be able to protect your interests and seek justice on your behalf.