Body Cam Shows Cops Slam 8-Months-Pregnant Black Woman as They Let White Woman ‘Who Started Dispute’ Go
Officials in Barstow, California defended officers caught on body camera footage slamming a pregnant woman to the ground because she would not provide identification – even though all charges against her were dismissed.
The footage, obtained by the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, shows an officer responding to a dispute between 8-months-pregnant Charlena Michelle Cooks and an unidentified white woman.
The white woman tells the officer that Cooks was acting “all crazy.”
After a couple minutes on the scene, the officer says “I don’t see a crime that has been committed.”
The officer still agrees to file a police report and goes over to speak to Cooks.
Cooks tells the officer that the unidentified woman started the dispute because she didn’t like how Cooks was driving in the parking lot and that the woman scared her young daughter.
“She called the police for whatever reason, I don’t know, should I feel threatened by her because she’s white?” Cooks asks. “Because she’s white and making threats at me?”
The officer asks her name but she says she doesn’t have to tell him.
“I actually do have the right to ask for you for your name,” the officer insists.
Cooks grabs her phone and says, “Let me make sure.”
The officer says she has two minutes to confirm that police have the right to ask for identification but within seconds the officer and a fellow deputy take Cooks down by the wrist and slam her belly first into the ground.
“Why are you resisting?” the officer challenges.
“Please!” Cooks screams. “I’m pregnant. Please stop this!”
ACLU attorneys who released the footage told reporters that, “Even if an officer is conducting an investigation, in California, unlike some other states, he can’t just require the person to provide ID for no reason. Officers in California should not be using the obstruction law to arrest someone for failing to provide ID, when they can’t find any other reason to arrest them.”
ACLU attorney Jessica Price added, “Imagine getting wrestled to the ground and handcuffed in front of your child’s elementary school. Imagine what kids who saw the incident tell your child. And if you think the whole incident happened because of your race, how does that impact your view of police?”
The resisting arrest charges against Cooks were dropped but the city insists the officers acted properly.
“This incident was in no way racially motivated, as implied by the ACLU,” the city’s statement said. “Barstow is a racially diverse community, as is our Police Department, and we affirm our Police Department’s commitment to protect and serve all of our residents.”
“I’m still trying to process everything and get in a good state of mind,” Cooks later told the Desert Dispatch. “I’m in a very fearful state of mind. Barstow is so small and I used to be comfortable living here. Not anymore. I really felt like after all that happened I had some of my everyday freedoms taken from me.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that terrified in my life,” she added. “I never saw that coming. I told him I was pregnant so he could proceed with caution. That didn’t happen and the first thing I thought was I didn’t want to fall to the ground. I felt the pressure on my stomach from falling and I was calling for help. But those guys are supposed to help me. But who is supposed to help me when they are attacking me?”