Two images. One is shocking no matter how many times you see it: a CHP officer repeatedly punching a woman as she lays by the side of the Freeway. The officer claims the woman became ''combative'' when he tried to prevent her from walking into traffic on the 10. That was July 1st. Today, the other image is the CHP's Commissioner, Joe Farrow, warmly shaking hands with community activist Earl Ofari Hutchison, leader of what he calls the ''Urban Policy Roundtable”. Farrow, Hutchison, and a number of prominent leaders in the Southern California and national civil rights movement met privately with the CHP brass at the Highway Patrol's Culver City office to discuss the cell phone video and the behavior it depicted.
No answers, no conclusions, but the fact that Farrow agreed to meet with them, rather quickly, was significant and showed an awareness on his part of how serious this incident is. In fact, he called it ''shocking'', the most outrageous thing he's seen in his career. The CHP said its investigation will be done in ''weeks, not months'', which seemed to placate those at the meeting, at least for now. In response to allegations the CHP shouldn't investigate itself, Farrow said the Los Angeles County District Attorney is putting people on the case; he's spoken to the LAPD about helping, as well as the U.S. Attorney's office. Farrow seems to be doing and saying the right things for now, but a lot of those in the meeting have been down this road with law enforcement before, and they'll be there to hold the CHP's feet to the fire, so to speak.
Meantime, the woman, identified as Marlene Pinnock, a homeless mother of two, with mental health issues is still in the hospital. One of her adult children told me today she's overwhelmed by what's happened, saying ''I can't believe a CHP officer who's supposed to help people, beat her like, I can't even say like a dog because if he beat a dog like that he'd be in jail.'' The CHP won't release the officer’s name, citing legal privacy laws commonly called the ''Peace Officers Bill of Rights'' which protect privacy during a disciplinary investigation. He does get his full salary though, at his now new so called ''desk job''.