911 tapes show drivers worried before CHP beating - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

911 tapes show drivers worried before CHP beating

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By TAMI ABDOLLAH
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Drivers who called 911 minutes before a woman was videotaped being pummeled by a California Highway Patrol officer worriedly described her wandering barefoot along the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway.

The CHP released the recordings Thursday in response to a public records request by The Associated Press.

Nine drivers called authorities July 1 to report 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock walking or standing on the shoulder, or attempting to cross lanes of traffic. She was wearing a pink dress, no shoes and carrying a bag.

One caller said she appeared high or drunk. Another said she appeared "loaded." Multiple drivers expressed distress at not being able to help her.

Video shows Pinnock later being punched in the head by an unidentified CHP officer as she lay pinned on the shoulder of Interstate 10.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A woman seen in a video being pummeled by a California Highway Patrol officer alongside a Los Angeles freeway filed a civil rights lawsuit Thursday.

The lawsuit attorney Caree Harper filed in federal court on behalf of Marlene Pinnock names the commissioner of the CHP, the unidentified officer in the July 1 video and other officers as defendants.

The now-viral video recorded by a passing driver shows Pinnock, 51, being repeatedly punched as she's straddled by the officer.

The lawsuit claims excessive force, assault, battery and a violation of Pinnock's due process rights. It states that Pinnock "suffered great mental and physical pain, suffering, anguish, fright, nervousness, anxiety, grief shock, humiliation, indignity, and embarrassment" and seeks monetary damages to be determined at trial.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow told The Associated Press that he had not yet seen the lawsuit and the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation. He has met with community and civil rights leaders in Los Angeles multiple times since the incident and has pledged that the agency's internal investigation will conclude in weeks rather than the usual months.

"We do have a good history at taking a look at our processes, procedures and conduct of our employees," Farrow said. "That's never been questioned until today."

The CHP has said the woman was walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles, endangering herself and people in traffic, and the officer was trying to restrain her. The woman had begun walking off the freeway but returned when the confrontation occurred.

Harper said Pinnock remains hospitalized with head injuries. The officer, who had been on the job for 1 1/2 years, hasn't been identified and is on desk duty pending completion of the internal investigation.

Earlier this week, CHP investigators seized Pinnock's medical records and the clothing she was wearing during the incident. Chris Arevalo, executive administrator for psychiatric services at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, confirmed that the CHP served a search warrant Tuesday.

Harper, who was notified of the seizure by Arevalo on Wednesday, said she was told the search warrant was for "property or things that are evidence that tend to show that a felony has been committed or tends to show that a particular person has committed a felony."

Harper said the CHP took files that included statements to Pinnock's doctor about how she was feeling and references to her attorney. She said she was outraged by the violation of doctor-patient privacy and attorney-client privilege.

She claims in the lawsuit that the CHP's actions were an effort to shift blame to Pinnock by "misusing the criminal justice system to obtain privileged and private information to discredit (Pinnock) ... or circumvent the discovery rules in civil rights violation matters."

Farrow couldn't confirm the search warrant Wednesday but told the AP, "I don't think the CHP is trying to put her on trial or make it an issue about her. What I'm looking at is entirely about the circumstances, we all saw what happened. Our job is to find out the why and the how."

The incident has drawn outrage from U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who called it police brutality and demanded the officer be fired, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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