The 51-year-old woman punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer on the side of a freeway this month has filed a lawsuit claiming the cop used excessive force and violated her rights.
Onlookers used a cellphone camera on July 1 to record the unidentified cop pummeling Marlene Pinnock as he straddled her near an offramp in Los Angeles. The confrontation has been widely viewed around the world.
"Since Rodney King... videos have been the equalizer for vindicating citizens claims against the police," said John Burriss, Pinnock's attorney, who has also represented King. "Although, in this case the CHP claim that video does not tell the entire story, it does show enough of the story to demonstrate that the officer's punching of the victim was horrific."
CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow has said he's shocked by the video and promised an investigation, according to KTLA. CHP officials have said that before cameras starting recording, the officer was trying to restrain Pinnock from walking into traffic. They also claim that Pinnock ignored their commands and was physically combative.
The officer's "clear intent was to beat her with such force that could have resulted in her death and is tantamount to attempted murder," the complaint alleges. (Read the full lawsuit below.)
The suit was announced shortly after officials from the highway patrol subpoenaed and seized Pinnock's medical records from the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Taking her files might violate confidentiality rules too, the lawsuit argues.
"How can you give away files about someone injured… to the very people who beat her?" said Caree Harper, another attorney for Pinnock.
Pinnock, who is homeless, remained hospitalized on Thursday with a head injury, Burris said.
The officer seen striking Pinnock has been reassigned to a desk job, according to the Los Angeles Times. Her lawyers say he should be fired.
The lawsuit lists officer in the recording, other unnamed members of the force and Farrow as defendants. It contends that the department tried to "suppress" information from the altercation.
A CHP spokesperson reportedly wouldn't comment because of the pending investigation and litigation.