Police brutality has been in the news a lot in the last few years, with video footage outing violent cops to the masses. Recently, this topic came back up for discussion after cameras caught a girl being hit repeatedly in the head by an officer for underage drinking.
The footage went viral and now the police have released the officer’s bodycam footage of the girl’s arrest to show what really happened. It turns out, the 20-year-old victim may not be as innocent as we were led to believe, but does her behavior warrant being punched and struck in the head?
Here’s what happened: On May 26th, 20-year-old Emily Weinman was with her family and friends on a New Jersey beach, enjoying the Memorial Day weekend. It was at this point that Emily was confronted by police officers on suspicion of drinking.
There has to be better, safer, less violent ways of handling conflict. Bodycam footage or not, I personally think the officers’ actions were going a step too far, but you can decide for yourself. Check out the footage below:
One of the officers issued a breathalyzer test, which Emily took without question and it came back negative. They asked her to do it again but received the same result. Despite Emily passing the test, the officers didn’t leave.
Emily began to film the incident herself and told her version of events in a now-deleted Facebook post. She wrote:
“Two cops approach me on their four-wheelers and ask me and my friend how old we are, we gave them our ages. Then, we got breathalized, and it came back negative. I told them I wasn’t drinking and the alcohol was clearly closed/sealed, which the cops seen.”
In Emily’s video footage, the officers are seen wrestling her to the ground and punching her in the head. In response to this, the Wildwood Police Department has released its own video footage from the event.
The footage is from one of the officers’ bodycams and is split into three videos. In the footage, the officers approach and confront Emily and her friend for underage drinking. After the breathalyzer test comes back negative the second time, the officers tell the girls they will have to pour out any alcohol.
When the girls don’t immediately pour out any present drinks, the officers say they are not cooperating, to which Emily responds, “I didn’t disrespect you, I didn’t do anything to get written up, did I?”
It’s at this point things get out of hand. When Emily refuses to tell the officer her last name, he says she is causing a scene and says “I’m done with you… Get over here.”
Emily replies, “Don’t f***ing cuff me.”
The officer then says, “You’re about to get dropped”. The footage shows Emily with her hands up and, perhaps a little too conveniently, the camera then shuts off.
Police officials are saying this is because Emily punched the officer in the chest, causing the camera to shut off, but there is no concrete evidence of this. During the “blackout”, officers claim Emily kicked an officer in the groin, saying she started the violence first.
At this point, the camera comes back to life and the first violence caught on camera is an officer forcibly grabbing Emily’s hair, pushing her to the ground, and punching her in the head three times.
The officers then cuff her and take her away while she screams that her child is witnessing this and that she did nothing wrong. The footage finally ends with one officer retelling his version of events to another, saying “She kicked him and I just hit her a couple times… I put her in cuffs and locked her up.”
Weinman has since hired a lawyer, who is arguing that the police officers “overreacted and used excessive force”.
However, the Chief of Police claims that the department is supportive of its officers and stated: “From what I see on the video and only on the video, from not even talking to the officers, I think they did a decent job.
“I think we could have done a better job at trying to explain to her, but it didn’t appear Ms. Weinman wanted to hear what we had to say. She tried to tell us it was okay for her to possess alcohol and that doesn’t make any sense.”
While Emily should not have fought back or resisted, I’m personally of the opinion that grabbing someone by the hair, forcing them to the ground, and punching them in the head three times for possessing alcohol underage is completely inappropriate.
Even if Emily did resist arrest and kick an officer, which is never shown on camera, violence does not equal more violence. The two trained male officers should have easily overtaken a slim 20-year-old girl without resorting to the extreme violent measures they took.