“I didn’t see anything in the video that would cause me to believe, that this woman needed anybody to use any type of force or restraint on her,” said State Attorney Willie Meggs.On August 10, 2013, Christina West, 44, was arrested for driving under the influence. Most of have little to no tolerance for such, and some of us have lost loved ones. That being said, the excessive force used by Tallahassee police as they were arresting West, is almost incomprehensible to watch on this recently released video.
Officers Chris Ormerod and Matthew Smidt were placed on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation.
Please note the video is very disturbing and shows the officers slamming West's face into the back window of their patrol car, then throwing her down and slamming her face into the ground as she screamed.
RT News Video:
Still, Tallahassee Police Department spokesperson David Northway defended the arrest.Here is the police report:
“We standby our practices that we have in place and we also stand by the procedures that we have in place,” Northway remarked. “And if there is something that has gone awry in this investigation then the proper procedures will be followed and actions will be taken against those officers.”
Press Release: Tallahassee Police Department
City Releases Details on DUI / Use of Force IncidentPress Release: Tallahassee Police Department
At 2:10 a.m. on Saturday, August 10, Tallahassee Police Department patrol officers were called to the area of Delaney Drive and Kilkenny Way in northeast Tallahassee, regarding a vehicle crashing into a house at 3501 Kilkenny Drive. Responding officers located the driver - Ms. Christina West - who stated she was returning from Panama City, FL. While turning onto Limerick Drive from Delaney Drive, Ms. West appeared to have accelerated, missing the right turn at Kilkenny Drive. The vehicle continued straight striking a light pole, stop sign, and continued forward into the yard of 3501 Kilkenny Drive, finally striking the house. Ms. West had three students in her vehicle (all under the age of 18) at the time of the crash. Ms. West said the three were foreign exchange students.
The vehicle came to rest inside the master bedroom of the residence. The owners were not home at the time of the incident. A City of Tallahassee utility crew responded to secure live wires from the light pole. During the subsequent investigation of the crash, Ms. West failed a sobriety test and she reported she had been taking prescription medication while drinking alcoholic beverages prior to the accident. Ms. West was initially arrested without incident, but was removed from the car when it was discovered she had slipped her hands out of the handcuffs. At that time, she resisted arrest, and a struggle ensued in which Ms. West was restrained on the ground in order to facilitate the placement of handcuffs. Ms. West was taken to Leon County Jail where she was recommended for medical treatment. She was then transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) for medical clearance, which she received before being transported back to jail for processing. Ms. West sustained a broken orbital bone along with scrapes and bruises to her body.
At TMH, while being cared for by the hospital staff, Ms. West continued disruptive behavior that resulted in charges for assault being filed against her by the nurse on duty.
The officers completed a use of force report documenting the incident, per department policy.
"We are concerned any time an individual is injured while in police custody," said Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones. "Our job is to serve and protect, and that includes victims and suspects. We regret that Ms. West was injured.
"We train our officers in appropriate use of force procedures and my job as Chief is to gather all the facts to determine the appropriateness in this case," Jones said.
Chief Jones has called for an internal investigation, which will include interviews with all the individuals on the scene that night and at the hospital. It will also include reviewing the video to better determine exactly what happened. From a law enforcement perspective, the purpose is to have all the facts of the case so that the chief can take the appropriate action.
The case was sent to the State Attorney, which is standard procedure. In this case, the State Attorney's office made the decision to dismiss the charges of assault on a police officer(s) as well as charges for assault filed against Ms. West by the nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. The remaining charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is awaiting toxicology results.
"We understand that the video is disturbing to watch and it is for us too. We use cameras to help capture events such as this and are making the entire video available as we continue our internal investigation," said Jones.
The city has posted the 45-minute video of the incident, the Probable Cause Affidavit and the Use of Force Report on the city's website talgov.com/TPD. The probable cause affidavit and use of force report are also attached and the video may also be accessed on the Police Department YouTube site .
Here is a much longer Police Video. I think it's important to show different perspectives, as most news groups are only showing the brutal slam.
From the police report:
"At that time, she resisted arrest, and a struggle ensued in which Ms. West was restrained on the ground in order to facilitate the placement of handcuffs."
I did not see it that way. She was thrown and slammed to the ground.For the life of me, I can't understand what would make these officers snap and treat this woman so brutally when she showed no sign of resistance before they slammed her down. Are they being overworked? Do some have mental heath problems? Have they seen too may casualties due to drunk drivers? Or do they feel above the law?
In fairness, at times, some of the officers were very pleasant to West. Something snapped. After the attack, West became hysterical, then calm, then angry, then hysterical. Watching the entire video gives more perspective. It does not justify the attack on West.
What is just as disturbing about this attack to me, is the apathy displayed by some of the officers in the video during the violence they are witnessing. West is thrown to the ground, pinned and screaming in agony. Are they trained to turn off compassion, and defend their fellow officers regardless? They held her like a wild animal, as if she was going to harm them.
Once again, I find myself trying to wrap my brain around something that is foreign to me - no matter how many times I see it. And I hope I never get comfortable with it.
For more on the story: The Tallahassee O