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Family, Attorney Want Calif. Officer Charged in Highway Beating of Woman

Kenneth D. Miller, Los Angeles Sentinal | 7/10/2014, 3 p.m.
The family of a woman who was captured on video being beaten by a police officer on a California freeway ...
Maisha Allums, the daughter of Marlene Pinnock who was seen being beaten by a California Highway Patrol officer on a viral video, stands with family attorney Caree Harper during a press conference held at the Los Angeles Sentinel office on July 10, 2014. (Nicole Williams)

More than 23 years after the videotape release of White uniformed LAPD officers beating unarmed Black motorist Rodney King in 1991 (which sparked the civil unrest in Los Angeles and throughout the country in 1992), the savage beating of 51-year-old African American woman Marlene Pinnock by a yet to be named White California Highway Patrol officer on the Santa Monica Freeway on July 1 was captured by cellphone video.

A community is outraged, civil rights and community leaders are planning a protest and the victim’s attorney is demanding justice. Pinnock has since been hospitalized and the CHP officer has been placed on paid administrative leave as the organization investigates possible excessive use of force.

The video of the beating has since gone viral on YouTube and viewed by nearly a quarter of a million people just as of Monday July 7. The video, captured by a driver passing by, shows an officer punching Pinnock while on the ground more than eleven times in the face while she lies helpless on the shoulder of the freeway.

Two days following the attack, the CHP issued the following statement: "The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is aware of the video and we are looking into the incident. As a matter of policy, every time there is a use of force by our officers, there is a review conducted to determine whether the use of force was appropriate. That will be done in this case, however, since there is an ongoing investigation, it would be premature to comment on this specific video segment without reviewing the entire incident."

The video starts with the officer attempting to detain Pinnock. She manages to get a few steps away from him before he forces her to the ground. The officer then briefly struggles with her before repeatedly punching her in the face.

“After the officer spotted the barefoot woman walking along the shoulder and stepping into lanes of the 10 Freeway near the La Brea Avenue exit, he approached the woman, who became ‘physically combative’,” the CHP said in a statement. The video then shows the officer pull her to the side of the highway as he begins to brutally beat her.

After a few moments, a plainclothes officer arrives at the scene and assists the CHP officer in restraining Pinnock in handcuffs.

On July 4, Chris O'Quinn, Assistant Chief of the CHP Southern Division, assured news outlets the incident would be thoroughly reviewed.

"We're looking at every possibility, every fact, every circumstance that have contributed to this situation, and we're going to try to come to a just conclusion," said Assistant Chief O'Quinn at a news conference on Friday.

Pinnock’s family has retained African American attorney Caree Harper, a former police officer dedicated to pursuing justice, according to her website. Her site lauds her federal and state jury trial experience, and states she has helped many victims of civil rights violations.

Harper is asking that the two officers involved in the incident be punished. "She's not just some animal," attorney Harper said, "She has an aunt, a sister, a brother, a father and a great-grandchild."

Prominent Northern California based civil rights attorney John Burris has also joined the legal team representing Pinnock.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to comment on the matter as of press time.

The Sentinel reached out to a number of additional elected officials who were not available for comment.