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Los Angeles DA’s Office Declines to Charge Officer Who Was Videotaped Repeatedly Punching Mentally Ill Black Woman

Image made from video provided by a motorist shows a California Highway Patrol officer punching a woman on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway. (David Diaz/AP)

(David Diaz/AP)

A California Highway Patrol officer who was videotaped sitting on top of a mentally ill Black woman and repeatedly punching her will not face any charges, according to The Associated Press. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Officer Daniel Andrew acted lawfully, and needed to use force to stop Marlene Pinnock, who suffers from bipolar disorder, from entering traffic.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the video did not show the events that led up to Andrew punching Pinnock.

“When looking at all of the evidence, and especially the medical reports and eyewitness accounts, it becomes exceedingly clear that the officer, who was alone and struggling with Ms. Pinnock precariously close to evening freeway traffic, acted within the law,” said Lacey in a statement. “In our analysis, his use of force was legal and necessary to protect not only his own life but also that of Ms. Pinnock.”

The District Attorney’s Office also said the fact that Pinnock didn’t suffer any permanent injuries was further evidence that Andrew had acted lawfully.

Pinnock’s attorney, Caree Harper, blasted Lacey’s decision to let the CHP officer go free without being indicted, according to The AP.

“I think Jackie Lacey’s cowardice decision not to prosecute Daniel Andrew is disgusting, completely disgusting. And she needs to be investigated,” Harper said.

Harper isn’t the only person upset by the decision. The National Action Network staged a protest outside Lacey’s home on Thursday.

“This decision reeks with cowardness,” said spokesman Najee Ali. “We feel that DA Lacey has betrayed the trust of our community by deciding not to press charges. Ms. Pinnock who is a mentally ill and homeless person is one of the most vulnerable individuals of our society. If the DA can’t protect Ms. Pinnock against an abusive officer, that’s really troubling.”

Although Andrew is not facing any criminal charges, he still paid a price for his actions on the video. He resigned from the CHP and the department also payed a Pinnock a $1.5 million settlement. The Los Angeles Times reported Andrew’s last official day with the CHP was Tuesday. He joined the department in 2012.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King said the decision not to prosecute Andrew tells other law enforcement officers they will not be held accountable for using excessive force on Black people.

“By not charging him, the hundreds of thousands of officers across the country who were following this case very closely, have been taught that such violence used by them to subdue someone, including a mentally ill woman, is highly unlikely to result in charges for them,” King said. “The message is clear: When it comes to police brutality, Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey believes black lives don’t matter.”

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