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Woman in Freeway Beating Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against CHP

Attorneys for Marlene Pinnock say the assault was "tantamount to attempted murder."

Attorneys for Marlene Pinnock, the woman seen in a video being punched by a CHP officer, filed a lawsuit today. Patch file photo.
Attorneys for Marlene Pinnock, the woman seen in a video being punched by a CHP officer, filed a lawsuit today. Patch file photo.

Attorneys for the homeless woman seen on video being punched by a California Highway Patrol officer along the Santa Monica (10) Freeway filed a civil rights lawsuit today, alleging Marlene Pinnock was the victim of an unprovoked attack and a cover-up that was "tantamount to attempted murder."

The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, alleges the CHP officer, whose name is being withheld, beat her for no reason after she walked away from him and was later made out to be the aggressor in a falsified report.

A CHP spokesman said no one was immediately available to respond to the lawsuit.

Pinnock asserts she was a victim of about 15 "unprovoked vicious blows from the officer while straddling her and made no attempt to arrest her during the attack."

Pinnock contends the officer's "clear intent was to beat her with such force that could have resulted in her death and is tantamount to attempted murder." The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive and general damages.

According to the lawsuit, cell phone video shows part of Pinnock's "dress being ripped off her person by the officer's blow, along with her dignity being ripped away as his straddling technique exposed her buttocks to passersby."

The video, shot by a motorist on July 1, shows the officer atop Pinnock, delivering at least nine blows to the 51-year-old woman's head.

Pinnock initially was put on a 72-hour psychiatric hold -- something available to law enforcement officers when a person appears to be danger to themselves or others -- and held involuntarily for a mental evaluation following her arrest.

Attorneys and one of Pinnock's daughters claimed family members were unable to find Pinnock for five days after the beating, because she was signed in at a hospital under an alias.

Several CHP officials, including Commissioner Joe Farrow -- who is named in the lawsuit along with an officer identified as "John Doe" -- have met with family members and activists since the arrest, but activists have complained that CHP officers were not forthcoming with information.

The arrest occurred along eastbound lanes of the 10 Freeway near the La Brea Avenue off-ramp. Pinnock was walking barefoot along the shoulder and occasionally in traffic lanes, according to the CHP. When Pinnock did not respond to orders to stop, the officer got out of his patrol car and confronted her. The woman became combative, prompting the officer to take her down, CHP officials said.

About the time the officer stopped punching Pinnock, an off-duty law enforcement officer showed up and helped handcuff her.

Pinnock, a mother of two who has fallen on hard times, apparently had been living under the freeway in the area from some time. According to published reports, she has been arrested more than a dozen times since 2008.

--City News Service


Rob July 18, 2014 at 02:43 PM
The CHP Officer clearly needs anger management classes, probably should be tested for steroid use, suspended without pay and face possible termination. Thank God for cell phone videos ... Hard for CHP to justify such force. Honey, you deserve every penny coming to you and then some! Sadly, though, NOT ONE onlooker went to the victims defense to pull the Officer off of her :(
Jahan Dorzada July 19, 2014 at 06:33 PM
Not one onlooker went to the victim's defense, because that is a sure way to get shot-- if he was able to that to an unarmed female grandma, he would have no trouble shooting a young man claiming, "he was a threat and interfering with the law." Secondly, he should not just face "possible termination," he should be charged with a hate crime/aggressive, unjustified use of force/physical assault. Too many officers go into law enforcement to unleash their pent up rage on defenseless people because they know it is a good way to do so with no/minor consequences as they have a badge- not b/c they want to help citizens. This man is a criminal, a danger to society, and he should be removed from the streets.
Eileen Hanson Jang July 21, 2014 at 01:11 PM
When a person assaults another person they need to be arrested. He may have mental health issues but like everyone else with mental health issues need need to be arrested and punished for his CRIME.

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