“I Was Treated Like an Animal”: Pregnant Woman Wrestled to Ground in Unlawful Arrest

Newly released police body cam video footage shows cops in California wrestle a pregnant woman to the ground and arrest her after she refuses to show them identification.

The incident occurred on January 26, and the footage, recorded by Barstow Police, was released by the ACLU last week. It reveals the unlawful arrest of Charlena Michelle Cooks, who, at the time, was eight months pregnant and dropping off her second-grade daughter at school.


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The ACLU of Southern California posted the video on YouTube yesterday. Here’s an excerpt from their video description:

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A person who is not suspected of a crime has no obligation to identify herself. 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. The officer can ask for ID, but the person can say no. Cooks said no, and she was wrongfully charged with resisting a peace officer. With exceptions (if you’re driving and pulled over or have been arrested or booked, you need to show your ID), California law does not require you to provide identification to police. What happened here was wrong.

The city of Barstow, however, insists that police acted properly in the arrest…but a charge of resisting arrest against Cooks was dismissed by a judge after a defense motion asserting an insufficiency of evidence.

Go figure.

CNN provided an analysis of the video, and they pointed out something interesting the arresting officer said to the woman who placed the call to police…


In case you missed it, the officer said, “I don’t see any crime. I’m going to document her name, probably her story, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to provide a story where it’s your fault and this and that.”

Yet, that didn’t stop the cops from arresting and manhandling Cooks.

How stupid does one have to be to handcuff and place a woman who is EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT face-down on the ground?

“She ended up on the ground and on her belly. She couldn’t use her hands to break her fall, and she was unable to pick herself up afterwards,” the group said. “The ACLU has long advocated restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women. It’s a terrible idea to handcuff a pregnant woman behind her back. This video shows why.”

Also from CNN:

Barstow police said they are conducting an internal review.

“Once the department was made aware of the incident, we initiated an internal investigation, and it is ongoing at this time,” Lt. Mike Hunter said Thursday.

That police investigation started on Tuesday, five days after the ACLU posted the video online and issued a news release about the incident and that of another arrest of two brothers who, like Cooks, declined to identify themselves to police.

The city agreed to end “stop and identify” arrests and paid a $30,000 settlement to the brothers after an ACLU complaint, according to the civil liberties group and the two brothers.

As part of that settlement, Barstow police agreed to train their officers on how they may not arrest someone solely for refusing to show identification.

Looks like that training worked REALLY well.


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