- Charlena Cooks of Barstow, California was eight months pregnant when she and an employee at her daughter’s school got in a ‘petty’ argument
- The employee called police after the two women fought in the school parking lot
- They then asked Cooks to give them her name, something they did not ask the employee (who was white), and grew agitated as she refused
- Two officers then pulled her arms around her back and shoved her to the ground to cuff her
- She can be heard screaming on the body cam the entire time that she is pregnant
- Charges against her were ultimately dropped, but the Barstow Police Department says it did nothing wrong
Body cam footage released by the rights group American Civil Liberties Union on May 28 shows two police officers forcing a pregnant woman to the ground while her hands were behind her back despite the fact that she had not committed a crime. Charlena Cooks of Barstow, California was dropping her second grade daughter off at school in January 2015 when a traffic incident led to an argument between her and a school employee in the parking lot, leading to the employee calling police.
Once police arrived on the scene, a cam caught what happened next. This footage was released just now by the American Civil Liberties Union, at a time when reports of police brutality in American especially against members of minorities has seen a marked rise.
In the video, Cooks tells the officers that the entire incident with the school employee had been blown out of proportion, and that the altercation was ‘petty.’ Unlike with the employee, a white woman, the officer cuts off Cooks as she is telling her side of the story and demands identification, something he did not do with the other woman. He also says that Cooks has two minutes to give him her name.
At this point, Cooks says she wants to see if she has to give the officer her name, and goes to call her boyfriend and ask. Less than 30 seconds pass before the officer, and another policeman, grabs Cooks arms and start putting them behind her back. The woman, still in the school parking lot, begins loudly screaming that she is pregnant and to let her go.
That is when she is thrown to the ground and cuffed by the men, who then demand she stand up and stop resisting arrest.
Cooks later told a local newspaper that she had told the police she was pregnant and that he should proceed with caution. “That didn’t happen and the first thing I thought was I didn’t want to fall to the ground. I felt the pressure on my stomach from falling and I was calling for help. But those guys are supposed to help me. But who is supposed to help me when they are attacking me?”
Cooks was then charged with resisting or obstructing a peace officer or other public safety official, a charge that was eventually dismissed.
Cooks, who was eight months pregnant, went on to have her baby in March. The baby was born healthy but it still being monitored by doctors. Now, she is looking to move away from where this all happened, and get on with her life.
Below is the video released by the American Civil Liberties Union