TALLAHASSEE, FL — Shocking video evidence shows how Tallahassee police officers used an unprovoked act of violence against a woman they were arresting for driving under the influence. In front of their own dashboard camera, without any legitimate provocation, two officers drilled a woman face-first into the road, then knelt on her head, causing startling physical trauma.
In the early hours of August 10, Tallahassee police arrived at the scene of an alcohol-related accident. The suspect, 44-year-old Christina West, was put through field-sobriety testing and determined to be intoxicated.
During the arrest, the inebriated woman flailed her arm as the officer attempted to handcuff her.
“DON’T YOU F***ING TOUCH ME,” Officer Chris Ormerod roared.
The officers are then seen forcefully slamming the 5′-6″, 130 pound woman face-first to the hard ground, followed by a giving her a gratuitous knee to the back of her head, exacerbating her facial trauma.
She can be heard screaming in pain as she is being pressed into the road by two male assailants. Officer Ormerod continued to press her face into the ground with his arm.
West was arrested on a charge of DUI and several counts of battery on a law-enforcement officer, according to Tallahassee.com.
Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said he was shocked by brutality of the officers, and will not prosecute West for battery on a police officer.
“I am extremely upset,” he said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. “It is very disturbing. This is a very disturbing situation to me, and I’m dealing with it.”
“The video was taken from the police car and shows the road side sobriety test as well as the arrest of the subject,” City Commissioner Scott Maddox wrote to city officials. “It also shows DISTURBING use of force against a completely non aggressive arrestee. It is my belief that the city of Tallahassee will soon face a liability lawsuit based on the content of the video.”
After being hospitalized, West was determined to have suffered a broken orbital bone, a swollen eye, bloody nose and cuts to her arms and legs.
Arresting Officer Chris Ormerod excluded details from his written statement, according to Tallahassee.com. Ormerod wrote that West was “placed on the ground” after resisting being put in handcuffs. He omitted the part where she was bent over his vehicle and then body-slammed to the road, followed by a crushing knee to the head.
Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones has opened an investigation. No comment on the future employment of the officers.
The video speaks for itself. The use of force was brutal and unnecessary. TPD needs to purge its ranks of officers who commit such unprovoked assaults. Instead of charging West with battery, it would be more appropriate to charge Officer Chris Ormerod.
Video is available here.
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UPDATE: An investigative report of the incident has concluded that while some of the officers broke department rules, they all should be maintained as police officers. None of the brutality has resulted in a criminal charge. After easy stints of unpaid time off, all officers involved will be back on the street, serving and protecting the public once again. The department promises to follow its own procedures next time.
WTXL reports the findings of the investigation:
Officer Chris Ormerod was found to be in violation of rules of conduct during the arrest of Ms. West, failing to provide appropriate medical aid to Ms. West and improper documentation in his original report. He received a suspension without pay for 80 hours.
Officer Matthew Smidt was found to be in violation of rules of conduct during the arrest of Ms. West and for failing to provide appropriate medical aid to Ms. West. He received a suspension without pay for 40 hours.
Sergeant George Creamer was found to be in violation of standard operating procedure in this case, as he did not question the officers in his charge about Ms. West’s injuries. He was also reprimanded for not providing medical treatment to Ms. West. He received a suspension without pay for 20 hours.
Sergeant William Faust was found to be in violation of standard operating procedure in this case, as he did not question officers who were on scene about Ms. West’s injuries. He was also reprimanded for not providing medical treatment to Ms. West and for failing to correct missing information in Officer Ormerod’s original report. He received a suspension without pay for 20 hours.
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