The attorney for a woman who was seen in cellphone video footage being punched by a California Highway Patrol officer believes that the CHP is trying to shift the blame.
CHP officials said they believe the video has exposed the need for better officer training in regard to mental health. Carree Harper, attorney for 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock, believes that her client was a victim of police abuse, and that this is an issue of excessive force – not a sign the agency needs more special mental health training.
"Would the objectively reasonable officer have continued to hit her ten to fifteen times?" Harper asked.
Pinnock was allegedly punched by the unnamed CHP officer, who confronted her as she was walking barefoot on the side of the 10 Freeway two weeks ago.
"That officer’s intention was to batter her. Repeatedly. To punish her. And he did," Harper said.
CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that "the need for more (training) has been exposed," in reference to the video and how the law enforcement agency deals with the mentally ill.
Harper would not say whether her client is mentally ill or not, and believes Commissioner Farrow is wrong to presume anything about Pinnock’s mental state.
"With him shifting the focus to mental illness, if there were troubles in her life before the incident, this officer surely exacerbated it," Harper said.
The Commissioner says the video only captured part of the altercation. He added that one would need to know “what was going on the officer’s mind” at the time of incident.
Harper said the Commissioner's concerns fall short.
"He needs to go further than to say, 'There's additional training needed.' He needs to say, 'This officer was wrong. This officer is going to be punished. And we are going to hold him accountable,'" Harper said.
Harper would like the FBI and the Department of Justice to investigate the case. The CHP said their investigation should be wrapped in a few weeks.
The CHP officer in question is on desk duty. Meanwhile, Pinnock is in seclusion in an unnamed facility.