A woman who was punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer beside a Los Angeles freeway spoke out for the first time over the weekend, telling reporters she thought the officer was trying to kill her.
Marlene Pinnock, 51, said she feared for her life and wanted the officer involved the July 1 incident fired. The incident on the side of the 10 Freeway near the La Brea exit was caught on video.
“I couldn’t believe he just threw me down and started beating me down and treating me ugly,” Pinnock told KTLA. “The video footage helped prove that what I’m saying is the truth, and I’m really grateful for that.”
The CHP has launched its own investigation into the incident and CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow has told reporters that his office has contacted the local U.S. attorney's office, the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County district attorney's office.
Separately, the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing a request by civil rights leaders and Pinnock’s attorney, Caree Harper, for an independent investigation into the CHP officer.
Pinnock has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and Farrow, alleging that the officer used excessive force.
"I was scared for my life because I didn’t know when he was going stop beating me," Pinnock told the Associated Press.
In the lawsuit, Pinnock alleges that the officer "was bamming me in my temples with all the strength he had." The officer was identified in the lawsuit as Daniel Andrew, although the CHP has not confirmed his identity.
A CHP officer, in documents related to the incident, noted that Pinnock was “talking to herself” and tried to walk into traffic on the freeway, according to a report obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The officer made the comments in an application he submitted in support of putting the woman on a 72-hour hold for mental evaluation. The officer wrote that he was called to the eastbound lanes of the 10 Freeway after a report of a pedestrian walking on the roadway near the La Brea exit.
“The subject began telling me ‘I want to walk home’ and called me ‘the devil,’” he wrote. “The subject then tried to walk into traffic lanes.”
Pinnock was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation and was receiving treatment until last week. Her attorneys have declined to say why she was on the freeway that evening or provide more information about her mental health, but Harper said there was no indication she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
“We understand there is a curiosity about her mental state as to how she arrived on the freeway,” she said. “But our curiosity now is about how Officer Andrew arrived to beat her so many times.”
The officer involved has been removed from the field and assigned to an administrative job, the CHP said.
Times staff writers Richard Winton and Kate Mather contributed to this report.
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