On the dashboard camera of the police car you can hear a woman asking 2 policemen about her husband and her kids car seats. They then put her in the back of the police car. A few minutes later, the police return take her out of the back of the car, it is hard to hear everything being said but you can make out her saying something about the car seats and then there are 2 policemen slamming her head first into the patrol car and next onto the ground. She screams that it hurts and they dont let up at all, her arm bent back so far it looked like it could break at any moment. This is what 44-year-old Christina West looked like after they were done “detaining” her:
The police said on Tuesday that they “stand by our practices” that resulted in the woman’s cheekbone being broken during the arrest for drunk driving. And if it were not for the woman’s defense attorney alerting the State Attorney’s Office about questionable use of force, the video would not have come to light when it did.
Two Tallahassee Police Department officers, Matthew Smidt and Chris Ormerod, were suspended with pay on Tuesday night, a full month after she was injured. West was initially arrested on several counts of battery on officers, but prosecutors have since dropped those charges. The DUI charge is still pending.
Attorney Fred Conrad told the Tallahassee Democrat that he planned to sue the Tallahassee Police Department on behalf of his client, 44-year-old Christina West, after he reviewed dashcam video of officers breaking the orbital bone in her face and causing other injuries. The dashcam video clearly shows what happens but Officer Chris Ormerod’s official story goes like this, ““West was placed on the ground where she began to thrash and kick wildly. West kicked me in the groin area and kicked officer Schmidt in the leg… West was placed in a thigh lock on the ground as I secured her hands. While handcuffing West’s hands, she continued to violently make attempts to grab for my groin area with her hands.” None if that is seen in the video.
“I don’t care if she was drunker than Cooter Brown and took a breath test and blew through the moon … that’s not warranted. That’s not okay,” Conrad insisted to WCTV. State Attorney Willie Meggs agreed saying that the dashcam video was “very disturbing.” “I didn’t see anything in the video that would cause me to believe that this woman needed anybody to use any type of force or restraint on her,” Meggs explained.
The State Attorney’s office has dismissed charges of assault on a police officer and battery charges filed by a nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. A DUI charge is still pending while the state waits for toxicology results. After reviewing the video, City Commissioner Scott Maddox wrote City Manager Anita Favors Thompson and City Attorney Lew Shelley that the city should expect a “substantial” lawsuit, according to Tallahassee Democrat. “The video was taken from the police car and shows the road side sobriety test as well as the arrest of the subject,” Maddox noted. “It also shows DISTURBING use of force against a completely non aggressive arrestee. It is my belief that the city of Tallahassee will soon face a liability lawsuit based on the content of the video.”
West has already had two surgeries as a result of her injuries. “I can say I intend to pursue just compensation for Ms. West,” Conrad said. “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.”
In a statement to WCTV on Tuesday, Tallahassee Police Department spokesperson David Northway defended the arrest. “We standby our practices that we have in place and we also stand by the procedures that we have in place. And if there is something that has gone awry in this investigation then the proper procedures will be followed and actions will be taken against those officers.”
The two officers involved in incident have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
See the dashcam video here. (NSFW)
On Wednesday, city commissioners discussed the case during their regular meeting, with some expressing dismay over how West was treated by police and how the entire matter was handled by the department. They say they were ‘very concerned’ over alleged beating: The panel encouraged a swift investigation.