Los Angeles woman punched by CHP officer speaks (w/video)
LOS ANGELES — The woman whose videotaped beating by a California Highway Patrol officer sparked outrage says she believes the officer was trying to kill her.
In her first public comments since the July 1 beating on the side of a Los Angeles freeway, Marlene Pinnock recalled being repeatedly punched in the head while being pinned by the officer.
"He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me, he beat me. I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death," Pinnock told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Pinnock, 51, was released from the hospital last week after several weeks of treatment for head injuries and now slurs her speech, her attorney Caree Harper said.
Pinnock is suing CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow and Officer Daniel L. Andrew in federal court for civil rights violations. The lawsuit claims excessive force, assault, battery and a violation of her due-process rights. The CHP won't identify the officer, but the agency said he had been on the job for 1 1/2 years and is on desk duty pending completion of the internal investigation.
Farrow met with community and civil rights leaders in Los Angeles multiple times last month and pledged that the investigation will conclude in weeks rather than the usual months.
Sgt. Melissa Hammond, a CHP spokeswoman, said Sunday that she couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation.
The agency has said that Pinnock was endangering herself by walking on Interstate 10 and the officer was trying to restrain her.
Pinnock said she had been homeless for the last three to five years, occasionally staying at a shelter, a family member's home or living on the streets.
She said she was on her way to a place frequented by the homeless where she said she could feel safe to fall asleep.
Harper said the area was only accessible by walking along the freeway ramp.
She was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold by Andrew after the encounter, according to a document obtained by the AP.
Andrew said in his report that she was a danger to herself and wrote that "upon contacting the subject she was talking to herself. The subject began telling me 'I want to walk home' and called me 'the devil.' The subject then tried to walk into traffic lanes."
CHP investigators in July served a search warrant for Pinnock's medical records and the clothing she was wearing during the encounter from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Harper said she was outraged by the violation of doctor-patient privacy and attorney-client privilege.
Harper declined to discuss the circumstances that led to the encounter or her client's medical condition.
"If in fact she did call him the devil, it's secondary to the fact that he proved to be either the devil or a close relative," Harper said. "Because he treated her in a manner nobody should ever be treated."
Pinnock is being supported by Harper to keep her off the street and is essentially "starting from scratch," her attorney said.
Pinnock said she's had nightmares about being beaten. However, she was also thankful for the support she's received and said she was indebted to the motorist who stopped to record the incident.
"Without the video my word may have not meant anything," she said.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams .