In body cam footage obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, police officers in the city of Barstow can be seen slamming a pregnant woman to the ground.
The incident occurred after police were called over a traffic dispute between an unidentified white woman and Charlena Michelle Cooks, who was eight months pregnant at the time.
The officer talks to the white woman, who says Cooks was acting “all crazy.” However, the officer notes, “I don’t see a crime that has been committed.” The officer promises to file a police report before heading over to talk to Cooks.
Watch the full footage of Charlena Michelle Cooks’ arrest below:
Cooks explained to the officer that the woman disagreed with her driving and had been threatening her, even scaring Cooks’ second-grade daughter.
“She called the police for whatever reason, I don’t know,” Cooks says. “Should I feel threatened by her because she’s white? Because she’s white and she’s making threats to me?”
The officer then asks for her name, and when Cooks says she does not have to give him her name, he says, “I actually do have the right to ask you for your name.”
Cooks asks to make a phone call to make sure that is the case, and the officer grants her a few minutes to do so. However, after only 20 seconds, he performs a wristlock takedown and forces her to the ground, belly-first, as Cooks screams.
“Why are you resisting?” the officer demands.
“Please! I’m pregnant!” Cooks can be heard yelling on the video. “Please, stop this!”
Since the incident, the charges against Cooks have been dropped, though she says that her life was severely impacted and that she no longer feels like she belongs in her small town. Her daughters school had even banned her from its grounds until the charges were dropped.
“I’m in a very fearful state of mind,” Cooks told the Desert Dispatch. “Barstow is so small and I used to be comfortable living here. Not anymore. I really felt like after all that happened I had some of my everyday freedoms taken from me,” she said.
What’s more, according to ACLU SoCal staff attorney Adrienna Wong, Cooks was right to believe she did not have to show ID.
“Officers in California should not be using the obstruction law, Penal Code 148, to arrest someone for failing to provide ID, when they can’t find any other reason to arrest them,” Wong said.
Cooks had her baby in March at full term but is watching out to make sure that her daughter did not suffer any ill effects from the incident.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that terrified in my life,” Cooks told the Desert Dispatch. “I never saw that coming. I told him I was pregnant so he could proceed with caution. That didn’t happen and the first thing I thought was I didn’t want to fall to the ground. I felt the pressure on my stomach from falling and I was calling for help. But those guys are supposed to help me. But who is supposed to help me when they are attacking me?”