Charlotte-Mecklenburg police in North Carolina are maintaining that the officer seen on video repeatedly striking a woman while other officers held her down was “intentional” about how he struck her to get her to comply, the Associated Press reported.
During a press conference on November 15, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters that when the officers approached a man and woman who were spotted smoking pot at a bus stop on November 13, the woman interfered as they arrested the man.
An officer attempted to stop the woman and a struggle ensued, with the woman hitting the officer several times.
Lt. Kevin Pietrus told reporters that an officer who responded to a request for backup then struck the woman multiple times so the other officers could take her into custody. Pietrus told reporters that the officer’s actions were consistent with police training.
After a bystander filmed the struggle and posted it online, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police released a statement on November 16 saying that “after several repeated verbal commands,” the officer used seven “knee strikes” and ten “closed fist strikes” targeting the “peroneal nerve in the thigh.”
The statement asserted that the officer “was intentional about where the strikes were made.”
Chief Jennings told reporters that he understood the outrage and the emotional response from watching footage of a police officer striking a woman police were attempting to subdue. He said in his 32 years as a police officer, he had been involved in similar physical struggles that never looked “pretty” to the public.
Jennings said the incident is being investigated by the department’s internal affairs bureau. The officer has been temporarily reassigned from patrol to investigations while the incident is under review.
According to Jennings, the body camera worn by the officer was knocked off by the woman during the struggle.