Newly released body cam video from a Barstow, California police department shows the violent arrest of Charlena Cooks, a Black pregnant woman who was violently thrown to the ground after a disagreement at her daughter’s school.
Cooks was dropping off her daughter on January 26 when she got into an argument following a traffic incident with a school employee. Another school official called police officers. After arriving on the scene and speaking with the employee, the officers reportedly demanded identification from Cooks.
Skeptical of the officers’ request, Cooks asked if she could call her boyfriend to confirm whether or not she was required to divulge her information. The video shows that a police officer told Cooks she had two minutes to make the call, but after 20 seconds, officers can be seen reaching toward Cooks to arrest her. As she began yelling that she was eight months pregnant, officers slammed Cooks to the ground face down and handcuffed her, saying that she was resisting arrest. She was not injured, but was taken to a police station where she was charged with resisting arrest. The charge was later dropped.
“I was treated like an animal, like a monster,” Cooks said in a recent interview with CNN. “I was in unbelievable pain. I felt they killed my baby already.”
Though the police department has defended its officers’ actions, the American Civil Liberties Union of California has said that they had no grounds to confront her.
“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,” Adrienna Wong, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, said in a press release.
Cooks said that the experience has left her fearful of police, and she is considering moving away from her home in Barstow and suing the city. She delivered a baby girl in March, who is healthy but still being monitored by doctors.
The police department is currently investigating the incident.