A video circulating on social media Tuesday shows a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer hitting a woman several times while trying to arrest her. In a statement, police said the woman was resisting arrest.
>> WATCH the video below:
The video shows several officers holding Christina Pierre down while one hits her multiple times.
According to the police report, the incident happened Monday around 2 p.m. Two people were smoking marijuana at South Tryon Street and Arrowood Road, police said. When officers walked up to them, police said Pierre hit an officer in the face.
CMPD said Pierre “was laying on her hands and not allowing officers to arrest her.” The man was arrested and had a 9-millimeter handgun with him, police said.
One of the officers hit Pierre’s right thigh, saying “stop resisting” multiple times, police said.
Police said they gave several verbal commands before the officer hit Pierre seven times “with knee strikes and 10 closed fist strikes to the peroneal nerve in the thigh to try to gain compliance.”
Police emphasized that the officer hit Pierre in a very specific way.
“These are tense situations that have the potential to escalate quickly,” the statement from CMPD reads. “Police use of force is never easy to watch. Officers are trained to strike large muscle groups in order to gain compliance during an arrest.”
The department is internally investigating what happened. Police said the man was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resist/obstruct/delay and possession of marijuana. Pierre was arrested and charged with assault on a government official, resist/delay/obstruct and possession of marijuana.
In a statement, Bojangles confirmed the woman in the video was one of their employees who had just clocked out from her shift before the video was taken. Bojangles said it plans to cooperate with CMPD’s investigation.
“Like many other Charlotteans, we were shocked and saddened by the video of an incident between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and a Bojangles employee. While we wait to learn more of the details of what led to the incident, we plan to cooperate fully with any investigation,” Bojangles said. “We can confirm that the individual in the video and her partner had recently clocked out from their shifts at Bojangles and left the property. They both remain employed by Bojangles at this time. Please direct all further inquiries to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.”
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings shared a statement Tuesday, saying the body camera video of the incident tells more of a story than the video that surfaced on social media.
Activists are calling for the video to be released, too. However, state law prevents police from releasing that video without a judge’s order. Chief Jennings said they already started the legal process so that the public could view the video.
Channel 9 is also requesting the body camera footage be released.
Channel 9 doesn’t usually show mugshots of people facing misdemeanor charges, but because of how the arrest happened, we thought it was important to do so. In the photo below, you can see Pierre’s mug shot on the left, which shows a mark on her left cheek. On the right, you can get a clearer view of the bruising on her face.
Channel 9′s Joe Bruno spoke with the woman’s attorney, who agrees with Jennings that the body camera video will tell more of the story.
“I’m sure that it does, considering that the cellphone footage we’ve all seen on social media only shows what happened after she was being held down by multiple officers,” attorney Lauren Newton said.
The social media video is upsetting for some neighbors like Abdul and Jay Evans, who often go to the Bojangles where their son once worked.
“It doesn’t really matter, unless someone takes a gun out and points at you, you shouldn’t be beating on anyone,” Abdul said.
Channel 9 anchor Genevieve Curtis showed Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack the photos of Pierre’s injuries.
“The question is, ‘How did they get there? Who struck her? How many times was she struck?’” Mack said.
She met with Jennings for 90 minutes Tuesday night.
She hopes the body camera footage is released quickly.
“I do believe Chief Jennings understands the optics look terrible for any police department and that it is his responsibility as a leader for us to all get past this,” she said.
Mack texted the photos of Pierre’s injuries to Jennings. She says he responded by saying that he wasn’t aware of facial bruising.
North Carolina law bans police departments from releasing body camera footage without a court order. CMPD says they will petition the court to release it. Pierre’s attorney said they will ask to join that petition.
Community activists and Team TruBlue are questioning the police narrative.
“It took 17 blows to get her to complain. That’s insane to me,” activist Kass Ottley said Tuesday.
“The use of force does not fit the situation and they are supposed to de-escalate the situation,” she added.
Jennings’ full statement is below.
(WATCH BELOW: 3 officers assaulted while trying to arrest break-in suspect, CMPD says)
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