A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. Before we get to the story here is the video.

Yes it is graphic. A young white police officer pummeling a 51 year old black woman. Marlene Pinnock is her name,. What caused this fracas? Well the jury is out at the moment, but apparently bare foot and armed only with a purse she went jaywalking on an on-ramp to the I10 freeway. I had always assumed that jaywalking was usually dealt with by a small fine, not a good beating.

What I find curious is the lack of information being made available by the California Highway Patrol, we know the victims name, but they are loath to disclose the name of the officer involved. It will come out as Marlene Pinnock has retained legal council.
While not involved in the case I asked prominent Los Angeles Attorney Peter Haven for his thoughts on this case.

First of all, I know that overpass area where the Homeless woman “lives”. There are similar freeway overpass areas, and they tend to provide nice “shelters” for the Homeless, along with Tunnels, etc. That one seems to be a particularly good spot because it is very big, provides large canopy coverage, etc. so they probably get quite a few “residents” living there. The fact that Homeless tend to live there may make it problematic for law enforcement, and there may be more activity there.

But why would this young man beat this woman up?

Very hard to say one way or the other, but Police in LA frequently have to deal with the Homeless, and in many respects it can be like nurses and medical assistants dealing with patients in a Psychiatric Ward. It can be extremely difficult, unpleasant, thankless, and even gross bordering on stomach turning.Human beings who constantly have to deal with that, even in a clinical medical setting, can become jaded, irritated, angry, etc. I had a civil case where hospital staffers strapped down a mentally ill patient who subsequently died of a heart attack while strapped down, and they were not paying any attention to him, so they did not know when he went into arrest. They could have saved him if they had paid attention to him. But I suspect they suffered from these jaded, irritated, angry issues that, I am afraid, are all too human.

I do not know why the Officer started beating her. It is possible there are scenes where she became violent and we do not have video for those. The use of violent force was probably excessive regardless, but I would imagine there is more to the video than we can see. Similar to Rodney King situation here in LA. Video captured repeated beating, but the Video allegedly failed to include repeated attempts to subdue him, including tasers, before the beating commenced. At least that was the cops story.

I know that you are not involved in this case, but if you were, what sort of issues would you be exploring?

I would like to find out if she suffered any serious injuries as a result of the incident. It is always important to me to find out how badly she was injured, and it is possible that she was not badly injured at all.

Having said all of that, I think the Police are human and they probably not well trained to deal with Psychiatric issues, and I do think that Cops tend to develop aggressive behaviors. Perhaps that is why they were drawn to law enforcement, perhaps it is because of their jobs and what they are constantly exposed to, perhaps both, perhaps other problems as well. When your job is to deal with violence, it seems to me that it can have a tendency to make you more violent. We see this all the time with professional athletes and soldiers, etc.

It is my understanding that she has retained some legal advice, where do you see the case headed?

It appears that the woman has hired an attorney, and she will be suing the Department for use of excessive force and violation of Civil Liberties under color of State Authority (what we call a federal Section 1983 claim). It is good that she is filing suit, in my opinion, because it will get the matter out in the open where it will be investigated and hopefully come to a just conclusion.

This is a curious case on a number of levels. Not least of which is why Marlene Pinnock was living under a freeway overpass? One LA TV station aired a segment on the incident complete with ‘outrage’ from one of Marlene’s daughters. This begs the question, who would let their mother live under a bridge?

I guess time will tell this story.

Simon Barrett

Peter Haven is an LA based Attorney who specializes in just about everything. He can be found at Havenlaw.com

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