The 51-year-old California homeless woman who suffered a beating at the hands of an unidentified California Highway Patrol officer filed a civil right lawsuit against both him and the department, while her family asked federal officials to charge the officer with attempted murder, KCAL-TV reported on Thursday.
“This officer should be fired,” attorney John Burris said at a news conference. “There should be criminal charges against him.”
The lawsuit accuses the officer of using excessive force against Burris’ client, Marlene Pinnock, when he threw her to the ground near a Los Angeles freeway onramp and punched her at least a dozen times on July 1, an incident that was caught on video by a passing motorist. Pinnock has been in a local hospital since the incident. Burris said she is recovering from a head injury and “significant trauma.”
CHP officials are also accused of using a felony search warrant to obtain Pinnock’s medical records, which include private conversations between herself, her doctors and her lawyers. The Associated Press reported that investigators also took the clothes Pinnock was wearing at the time of the incident.
“I’m not certain they got incriminating evidence,” Burris said on Thursday. “But that was their motive, or otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, a CHP incident summary stated that Pinnock ignored the officer’s commands and walked into the freeway during rush-hour traffic, at which point she became “physically combative,” causing the altercation. The officer, the department said, was trying to stop her from hurting herself or others. But the footage does not show Pinnock resisting or seemingly threatening the officer.
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, who is also named in the lawsuit, would not comment on the case. But he told the AP that the department’s internal investigation of the incident will move at a faster rate than others.
“I don’t think the CHP is trying to put her on trial or make it an issue about her,” he was quoted as saying. “What I’m looking at is entirely about the circumstances, we all saw what happened. Our job is to find out the why and the how.”
Watch KCAL’s report on the lawsuit, as aired on Thursday, below.