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Shocking video shows a North Carolina cop repeatedly punching a black woman who was being arrested for smoking marijuana, sparking an internal investigation as Charlotte’s police chief said he “understand[s] the outrage.”
The now-viral footage shows several officers pinning Christina Pierre to the ground near a bus stop Monday afternoon — with one throwing several left-handers.
“What the f–k! Get off her!” one onlooker screams, as others note the cops was hitting “a goddamn woman.”
“Why he beating a lady like that?” someone else in the angry crowd asks with horror, as someone shouts, “You gonna kill her right on the ground.”
As outrage grew, police on Tuesday said that Pierre had “refused arrest” and “punched an officer in the face” before the start of the troubling clip.
The man with her, Anthony Lee, “had a firearm” — a 9mm handgun — and both “refused arrest, and a struggle with officers ensued,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.
“One officer threw multiple strikes to the female subject’s right thigh and ‘Stop resisting’ was stated several times,’ police stated.
“After several repeated verbal commands, an officer struck the female subject seven times with knee strikes and 20 closed fist strikes” to try to “gain compliance,” the statement said.
“The officer was intentional about where the strikes were made,” the department claimed, suggesting all the punches had been to her thigh.
However, police Chief Johnny Jennings admitted at a press conference Wednesday that Pierre suffered facial injuries consistent with “either a punch or abrasion,” possibly during an earlier struggle with an officer whose bodycam was not working. That would be a focus of the internal probe, he said.
“I get it. I understand the outrage,” the police chief said.
“I understand the emotions that come when you look at a video that involves an officer who is punching a female who we’re trying to make the arrest and subdue. I understand that.”
While still “proud” of the “great men and women who do great things every single day” in his force, he acknowledged concern over the “impact” the video could have on the community.
“If I look at this entire thing, are there things we can do better? Absolutely. Are there things that I wish had never happened? Certainly,” he said, vowing to use it to become “better.”
“But we don’t want an incident such as this, in the public eye, to define who we are as an agency,” he said, saying the use of force never looks “pretty,” even when justified.
Promising to fully investigate, he said it will be “a long road” with “a lot of sleepless nights” to determine “what steps need to be taken.”
“I never want to see any of my officers have to get to a point where they have to deliver strikes or use force against anyone,” he said — while also never wanting to “see any of my officers getting assaulted.
Pierre was charged with assault on a government official, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.
Lee was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.
Both suspects are black, while the unidentified officer throwing punches was white.
“When you do add the race factor into all this, it does heighten it,” said Jennings, who is black.
“Because I think that we’ve seen historically, not just in Charlotte, but across the country, uh, it’s the mistreatment of black and brown people by police.”
The chief stressed that his department had made “great strides” and had “progressed” its policies since the nationwide reckoning with police brutality in 2020, sparked by the caught-on-camera police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Officials were evaluating police body camera video of the arrest, which Jennings said he is currently forbidden by law from releasing to the public.
“I think that the public does deserve a right to see this video. I’m confident that the public will see this video,” said Jennings, saying he’s filed a petition to the courts to release it, which could take “a couple of months.”
Smoking marijuana recreationally is legal in 24 US states and Washington, DC, but it is outlawed in all southern states besides Virginia. It is legal to openly carry a gun without a permit in the Tar Heel State.