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BARSTOW, Calif. - Police are defending two police officers who pushed an 8-months-pregnant black woman to the ground and cuffed her because she would not give her full name, saying there was no underlying racial issue.
Charlena Michelle Cooks got into a “road rage argument” with a white female school employee in the parking lot of her second-grade daughter’s school, and someone called 911.
The first responding officer told the school employee no crime had been committed but he would get Cooks’ name for his report.
Cooks asked the officer to wait while she made a call to confirm that she was not legally required to show her identification in California.
Meanwhile, a second officer arrived and asked why she was resisting, and then the two of them took her to the ground, cuffed her, put her in a police car on charges of resisting a police officer. A judge later tossed the charges.
The incident happened in January, but the police body cam was released this month by the ACLU, which is defending Cooks on the grounds that under California law, an officer can ask for identification but cannot arrest someone simply for not giving it.
WARNING: The woman uses profanity as the officers push her to the ground and handcuff her.
>>> Click here to view video on mobile.
Earlier this week, the Barstow Police Department issued the following statement, indicating they believe the officer’s actions were justified:
“The City of Barstow has reviewed the video link regarding Charlena Cook’s arrest. It is apparent that Ms. Cook actively resisted arrest.
“The Barstow Police Department continues to be proactive in training its officers to assess and handle interactions with emotionally charged individuals while conducting an investigation, for the protection of everyone involved. This incident was in no way racially motivated, as implied by the ACLU.
“Barstow is a racially diverse community as is our Police Department, and we affirm our Police Department’s commitment to protect and serve all of our residents.”
Read the ACLU's news release here.