Driving under the influence is a bad idea; we all know that. But it still isn’t an excuse for police officers to take judicial process into their own hands and issue a beat down of a suspect.
On Aug. 10, in Tallahassee, Fla., police officers responded to the scene of an accident where 44-year-old Christina West crashed her vehicle into a house. The woman failed a roadside sobriety test and was placed under arrest. Case closed and pending judicial review as far as the officers are concerned, right?
After West was placed into the back of an officer’s patrol car, the police began questioning individuals at the scene.
Minutes later, one officer can be heard on dash cam video explaining to another — presumably in training — how to formally request that West take a Breathalyzer test. West is asked and agrees to take the test.
When the 5-foot, 6-inch mother of two weighing 130 pounds didn’t follow orders quickly enough because she was asking the officers a question about her husband and children, the lawmen got fed up and decided to break her face.
The video speaks for itself:
After being flung to the ground, West squealed in pain for several seconds as officer Christopher Ormerod kneeled on her buttocks and officer Matthew Smidt leaned on the back of her head, according to a description accompanying the video.
“That hurt so bad, I’m gonna sue your ass,” West told the officers following the incident. “I’m pooping my pants because you hit me so hard. My face is swollen. I think you broke my right cheek.”
“You’re fine,” one of the officers tells her in the video.
A statement has since been issued by Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones:
We understand that the video is disturbing to watch and it is for us too. We use cameras to help capture events such as this and are making the entire video available as we continue our internal investigation. Our job is to serve and protect, and that includes victims and suspects. We regret that Ms. West was injured.
Fred Conrad, West’s attorney, said he intends to ensure that the woman is able to make good on her promise of suing the officers.
“I can say I intend to pursue just compensation for Ms. West,” Conrad told The Tallahassee Democrat. “And I can say I intend to do it relentlessly. I intend to make the Police Department pay for this. This is wrong. And they need to pay for it.”