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CMPD officer reassigned after video showing woman punched goes viral

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters the incident could have been worse if officers pursued the driver earlier.
Sarah Delia
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters the incident could have been worse if officers pursued the driver earlier.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings addressed on Wednesday a video of involving two people allegedly smoking marijuana a bus stop in southwest Charlotte. The video, circulating widely on social media, shows an officer repeatedly punching a woman being arrested.

Jennings said the officer's strikes were strategic and part of the department's training.

“It is a compliance blow," Jennings said.

“A strike to the coronial nerve is if someone has their hands underneath them and we're trying to activate an arrest that strikes to the coronial nerve, the hope is that it will cause that distraction or pain compliance that will get them to put their hands behind their back.”

On Monday, CMPD officers approached Anthony Lee and Christina Pierre near a stop at South Tryon and Arrowood streets and told them they were under arrest. CMPD said Pierre punched an officer in the face. According to CMPD, both refused to be arrested and struggled with multiple officers.

A video of the altercation taken by a bystander surfaced online and it shows an officer throwing multiple punches at the female victim and saying “stop resisting” during the attempted arrest. CMPD said Pierre was hit 10 times in the knee and seven times in the thigh while she was on the ground.

One of the officers involved who was throwing punches has been moved to another division in the city.

While the public will not be able to see bodycam footage until a judge orders its release, Jennings and internal investigators have had a chance to see what occurred on Monday.

"There's nothing that's very clear and visible that whether an officer struck her particularly, there's nothing that shows that she was struck while she was on the ground in the, in the head or face area,” said Jennings. 

“There was a struggle with a single officer that occurred before his backup did arrive. We think that if, if those abrasions or bruising on her face occurred, it would have occurred during that struggle at some point,” he added.

Despite the strikes to Pierre’s legs, images online have surfaced of her with bruises on her face.

"The threshold, That's a, that's a difficult point to answer. We are doing what is necessary to activate the arrest," said Jennings.

"From what I saw that once she was in custody in handcuffs, there were no more blows delivered. Now, that's one of the things that, that we certainly should be looking at is, you know, where do we realize that this isn't working? We did that with the Taser. If you remember that, if at some point it's not working, you have to move to something else."

Police said Lee had a handgun. He has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting, obstructing, delay and possession of marijuana.

Pierre was charged with assault on a government official, resist, delay, obstruct and possession of marijuana.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.