Attorney: Eyewitness saw CMPD officer punch woman in face during arrest
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief addresses outrage after viral arrest video
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – An attorney for the woman arrested after a violent struggle with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers Monday says an eyewitness has come forward to detail an officer punching the woman in the face before putting her under arrest.
Christina Pierre was arrested by officers, along with her fiancé, around 2:00 p.m. on Monday. CMPD has said the pair were smoking marijuana waiting for the bus at a stop in the area of South Tryon Street and Arrowood Road in Steel Creek. A video was posted to Instagram shortly after the situation occurred.
The video shows an officer delivering more than a dozen strikes to Pierre’s knee and legs.
In a statement released Tuesday, CMPD said the individuals, a man and a woman, were smoking marijuana when officers approached them. As police got close to them, the woman allegedly punched an officer in the face. Police said the man was armed with a 9mm pistol.
After the man and woman refused arrest, a “struggle” ensued, which led to one officer striking the woman’s thigh seven times with his knee before hitting her peroneal nerve 10 times with a closed fist, according to the department.
What CMPD has not addressed--and what is not depicted in any of the video that has surfaced to date--is how Pierre’s face was injured.
Pierre’s attorney, Lauren Newton, has released pictures showing a large bruise on Pierre’s left cheek.
On Wednesday, Newton told Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner that she has spoken with an eyewitness who said she saw the first officer on-scene punch Pierre in the face.
“What we know from a witness, a witness that was there on scene, a white woman who’s seen in the video, is that the first officer cold cocked Miss Pierre,” Newton said.
At a press conference held Wednesday morning, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said he could not explain how Pierre’s face was injured but did not rule out that she was punched or that it was injured while she was on the ground.
“There’s a couple of different thoughts out there from watching the body-worn camera. There’s nothing that’s very clear and visible, whether an officer struck her,” Jennings said about those injuries.
“Particularly there’s nothing that shows she was struck while she was on the ground, in the head or face area. There was struggle with a single officer that occurred before his backup did arrive. We think that if those abrasion or bruising on her face occurred, it would have occurred during that struggle at some point.”
Jennings said an investigation is underway following the incident and said he understands the outrage and emotion out in the community.
“To everyone and to our community, I get it. I understand the outrage, I understand the emotions that come when you look at a video that involves an officer who is punching a female who we’re trying to make the arrest and subdue. I understand that,” Jennings said while addressing the media Wednesday morning.
Newton, the attorney, said her client is just starting to heal from the ordeal.
“She is traumatized. This is her first encounter with the law. She’s a law abiding citizen,” Newton said. “She is a happy go lucky woman who dutifully served CMPD officers every day at Bojangles with a smile. She’s a law abiding citizen. This is her first ever arrest or charge.”
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