Body cam video recently made public by the American Civil Liberties Union showed police officers bringing a woman who was eight months pregnant to the ground during an arrest in Barstow, Calif., the Desert Dispatch newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The video, released by the ACLU on Friday following a lawsuit, showed Charlena Cooks being arrested on Jan. 26 after police were called to her second-grade daughter’s school, Crestline Elementary.
Cooks was arrested after refusing to give her name or provide identification and was later charged with resisting arrest, according to the Dispatch. The ACLU said that the charge was later dismissed.
The video shows the officer asking Cooks, who is black, for her full name before putting his hands on her and, along with another officer, bringing her to the ground and onto her stomach. Cooks can be heard screaming that she’s pregnant and for the officers not to touch her.
Cooks’ hand is bent and she is put in handcuffs before being picked up and brought to the back of a police car.
The white woman who called police was not arrested.
Adrienna Wong, an attorney with the southern California division of the ACLU, said in a news release that an officer might arrest someone for not presenting ID, but it would be a “wrongful arrest.”
“Even if an officer is conducting an investigation, in California, unlike some other states, he can’t just require a person to provide ID for no reason,” Wong said. “Officers in California should not be using the obstruction law, Penal Code 148, to arrest someone for failing to provide ID, when they can’t find any other reason to arrest them.”
Cooks said she was involved in a “petty” parking lot disagreement and said that police refused to listen to her account of the incident.
In the video, Cooks can be heard shouting that she’s pregnant as she’s being arrested.
“I told him I was pregnant so he could proceed with caution,” Cooks said of her interaction with the officer. “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?”
Barstow police defended the arrest and city officials denied that race played a role in the arrest.
“The City of Barstow has reviewed the video link regarding Charlena Cook’s arrest. It is apparent that Ms. Cook actively resisted arrest,” the police department said in a statement obtained by television station KCAL.
“This incident was in no way racially motivated, as implied by the ACLU,” city officials told the Dispatch. “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.”
Watch the video below, via the ACLU: