In police body camera video obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), an officer is responding to an apparent traffic dispute between Charlena Michelle Cooks, who is 8 months pregnant and black, and an unidentified white woman.
From THE RAW STORY:
The officer first talks to the white woman, who accuses Cooks of acting “all crazy.”
“I don’t see a crime that has been committed,” the officer admits after examining the woman’s car. After promising the woman a police report, the officer heads over to talk to Cooks.
Cooks explains that the argument occurred because the woman disagreed with the way she was driving in the parking lot. Cooks also said that the woman frightened her daughter, who was in second grade.
“She called the police for whatever reason, I don’t know,” Cooks says. “Should I feel threatened by her because she’s white? Because she’s white and she’s making threats to me?”
At that point the officer asks for Cooks’ name, but she insists that she does not have to tell him.
“I actually do have the right to ask you for your name,” the officer replies.
“Let me make sure,” Cooks says as she makes a phone call to someone.
The officer says he will give Cooks two minutes to verify his right to ask for her identification. But less than 20 seconds later, the officer and a colleague are performing a painful wristlock takedown on Cooks. The pregnant woman screams as she is forced belly first into the ground.
“Why are you resisting?” the officer demands.
“Please! I’m pregnant!” Cooks exclaims. “Please, stop this!”
ACLU SoCal staff attorney Adrienna Wong pointed out that Cooks had a right to refuse to show her ID.
“It would be a wrongful arrest, but it would be an arrest,” she noted. “Even if an officer is conducting an investigation, in California, unlike some other states, he can’t just require a person to provide ID for no reason.”
“Officers in California should not be using the obstruction law, Penal Code 148, to arrest someone for failing to provide ID, when they can’t find any other reason to arrest them,” Wong added.
ACLU SoCal staff attorney Jessica Price observed that Cooks, who is black, was handled very differently than the white woman.
“Imagine getting wrestled to the ground and handcuffed in front of your child’s elementary school,” Price remarked. “Imagine interacting with other parents afterwards. Imagine what kids who saw the incident tell your child. And if you think the whole incident happened because of your race, how does that impact your view of police?”