LOS ANGELES — A congresswoman said Wednesday that video of a California Highway Patrol officer repeatedly punching a woman he had pinned on the side of a Los Angeles freeway is unjustifiable police brutality.
Rep. Maxine Waters said the officer should be fired for "viciously" punching the woman and the CHP must thoroughly investigate.
She called the incident a "brutal attack" and said "there is nothing that can justify the officer punching a helpless woman on a freeway."
"This type of police brutality happens too often with African-Americans and we have seen it time and time again," Waters said in a statement. "Based on the video shown of the patrol officer's forceful punching of Marlene Pinnock, this is enough to demand his dismissal."
Her comments followed similar expressions of outrage and demands for a full investigation over the last week from civil rights activists and groups including the ACLU of Southern California.
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow met with community leaders Tuesday and vowed to complete a comprehensive investigation in weeks instead of the usual months. He says he was shocked by the video and the department's reputation has been wounded.
The CHP said the woman was walking on Interstate 10 west of downtown Los Angeles, endangering herself and people in traffic, and the officer was trying to restrain her. The woman had begun walking off the freeway but returned when the confrontation occurred.
The now-viral video shot July 1 by a passing freeway driver shows Marlene Pinnock, 51, being repeatedly punched as she's straddled by the officer on the shoulder of the freeway.
The officer, who has one and a half years on the job, hasn't been identified and is on desk duty pending completion of the internal investigation.
Sgt. Denise Joslin said officials are working in conjunction with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on the investigation. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department also offered their support and assistance and the U.S. attorney's office was briefed and consulted about the investigation, she said.
The investigation will primarily focus on the video itself and the officer's reason for using force, Farrow said.
Water said she will organize women to speak out about police brutality again and "demand justice and reforms that will create change within law enforcement to prevent this kind of abuse from continuing to happen."
For now, Pinnock remains in the hospital under a psychiatric hold. Her family found her covered in bruises, ice packs and taking pain medication.
"I'm just so overwhelmed," daughter Maisha Allums told reporters Tuesday. "I can't believe a CHP officer that was supposed to protect my mom and help my mom beat her like a — I can't even say like a dog because if it was a dog getting beat like that he would have been in jail."