Black Lives MatterNews & Opinion

CMPD Officers Filmed Striking Restrained Woman During Arrest

Chief Jennings calls for release of body-cam footage

CMPD officers restraining and striking a woman at a bus stop
A still from footage showing CMPD officers restraining and striking a woman at a bus stop on Monday.

Community members are calling for answers after CMPD officers were caught on video striking a Black woman before arresting her outside of a Bojangles on South Tryon Street Monday. The incident reportedly began when the police approached the woman and a man after seeing them smoking marijuana.

According to eyewitness accounts given to Queen City Nerve, the woman had just gotten off work at Bojangles, located at the corner of South Tryon Street and Arrowood Drive, and was about to get on the bus before police approached her. 

A CMPD statement released after the videos began to go viral alleged that the woman had punched an officer in the face as police approached her, then was “lying on her hands and not allowing officers to arrest her,” which they say justified the blows officers dealt. 

CMPD stated that four officers had attempted to arrest the woman before the fifth officer began issuing blows, known in the department as “compliance strikes.” The release claimed the compliance strikes — seven knee strikes and 10 closed fist punches — were only used after several repeated verbal commands.

Compliance strikes involve targeted strikes to a subject’s peroneal nerve in the thigh to try to gain compliance. The statement insisted the officer was intentional about where the strikes were made. 

Pictures taken Tuesday, a day after the incident occurred, showed bruising on the woman’s face, though it’s unclear if the injuries were the result of being punched or having her face pushed into the ground.  

Injuries suffered at the hands of police on Monday include facial bruising.

Robert Dawkins of SAFE Coalition NC, an Action NC group that advocates for criminal justice reform and accountability from law enforcement, said he was still unsure whether the strikes thrown by the officer were directed at the woman’s arm or head.

“What was the action that precipitated the need for this use of force?” Dawkins asked at a press conference in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center in Uptown on Tuesday. “What use of mitigation was used? What did you do beforehand to try and deescalate the situation? Was there the need for the compliance strikes?”

In one of three videos posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning, Nerve publisher Justin LaFrancois pointed out that the officer who dealt the blows, a white officer with his head shaved, entered the scene in an aggressive manner after four officers had already taken the woman down to the ground. The fifth officer quickly began throwing punches. 

An eyewitness told Queen City Nerve that, before the video started rolling, the first officers to arrive at the scene accused the two people sitting at the bus stop of smoking weed then threw them both to the ground.

The woman was already on the ground when the clips that Queen City Nerve obtained were filmed. She was unarmed and the man charged with carrying a concealed weapon had already been taken into custody in the back of a CMPD vehicle. 

The woman can be heard screaming something unintelligible in one of the videos obtained by Queen City Nerve. 

Injuries suffered at the hands of police on Monday include facial bruising.

An arrest record shows the woman was charged with simple possession of marijuana, resisting a public officer and assault on a government official/employee. 

The man was charged with possession of marijuana up to a half-ounce, resisting a public officer and carrying a concealed weapon, which CMPD officials claimed to be a 9-millimeter handgun.

WSOCTV received a statement from Bojangles confirming both individuals were and will continue to be employees that had just clocked out and left the property. 

Over the past few years, SAFE Coalition NC has worked with the city on the Community Input Group (CIG) to develop suggestions for CMPD on how it can do a better job of transparency and making policy changes around police interaction with the community. 

One of SAFE Coalition’s biggest issues was CMPD’s Response to Resistance policy, which states officers must only deploy control methods when it is reasonably necessary.

Meko McCarthy with SAFE Coalition said the officers involved with Monday’s incident racially profiled the individuals and agitated the situation. McCarthy called for the officer who dealt the blows to be suspended without pay. 

A group of eight local activists hold a press conference to protest CMPD officers assaulting a woman in front of her work on Monday
Meko McCarthy speaks at a press conference in Uptown Charlotte on Tuesday. (Photo by Annie Keough)

“Just because he has a badge does not warrant him to abuse that power,” she said. “And that’s exactly what he did: abuse his power.”

“For the other officers to sit and watch what he was doing tells you more about them than it does the person that was actually doing the beating,” Project B.O.L.T. founder Gemini Boyd said at Tuesday’s press conference. “It’s something that’s installed, it’s a culture.”

“All the training [CMPD goes] through … and it took 17 blows to get a young lady in handcuffs?” added local activist Kass Ottley. “If that’s what we have to do to get one person in handcuffs, I’m pretty sure I don’t feel safe and I don’t think anyone else in Charlotte should feel safe under these circumstances.”

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings released a statement Tuesday standing by the officers in the video clips, saying that his officers are “often placed in difficult situations that require actions that are hard to watch.” 

Jennings said he has called for the courts to release body-camera footage from officers on the scene, a request that will take time to process.

“I watched the body-worn camera footage and believe that it tells more of a story than what is circulating on social media,” Jennings said.

UPDATE (11/15/23): CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings held a media availability this morning at the Law Enforcement Center addressing the recent videos, stating that he understands the outrage that followed the footage but reinforcing his support of the arresting officers.

Jennings stated that the officer who dealt the blows, later identified as Vincent Pistone, has been temporarily reassigned to an investigative division and removed from patrol at this time.

Jennings confirmed that he is requesting that courts release the body-camera footage of all officers involved, adding that he believed the woman’s facial bruising was the result of her struggle with the first responding officer, whose body-worn camera was knocked off during the struggle so “you can just barely see it.”

The internal investigation is ongoing, Jennings said.

Queen City Nerve will follow up on this story as it develops.

Justin LaFrancois contributed reporting to this article.

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  1. What a garbage story. But who would expect any less from a race-baiting, fake news organization like the QC Nerve. Fuck you Justin!!

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