A woman seen getting repeatedly punched by a police officer on camera is speaking for the first time. Her attorney said she was subdued for most of the blows.
Christina Pierre is the woman seen in a viral video that’s created city-wide outrage. She rewatched the disturbing moments today in body camera footage from the responding Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers.
Pierre watched the video alongside her fiancé and her attorney. Her attorney, Lauren Newton, told Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz that what they saw lines up with the witness statement Goetz was given on Thursday.
Although the couple did not want to talk in person on Friday, we have since heard from them for the first time via video message.
“I have never been through anything like this,” Pierre said. “But for anybody who is going through any type of mistreatment from those who are supposed to serve and protect us, we are going to fight to make sure all of this gets justice and it’s right for all of us.”
The video was sent to Channel 9 after Christina Pierre and her fiancé, Tony Lee, left CMPD headquarters on Friday. The couple, along with Newton, was inside for three hours watching body camera video from Monday’s controversial arrest.
“We didn’t learn much more than what [CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings] has already told us, except it is clear that she was already down on the ground and her hands were behind her back when at least 10 of those blows were delivered,” Newton said.
Newton said Pierre left that viewing early because it was traumatizing for her to watch the videos.
On Thursday, CMPD said a different officer than the one seen hitting Pierre did strike her in the face, but that it was after she hit the officer multiple times. Newton said the video from that moment was not clear.
On Wednesday, Chief Jennings said the officer’s body camera had been knocked off. On Friday, CMPD said that first officer -- the one who hit Pierre in the face -- is still on duty.
“There’s no change of assignment though for that officer, but again, there are facts and there are things that are going to be developed as this investigation goes on,” Lt. Kevin Pietrus said.
CMPD had said Pierre and Lee were smoking marijuana when officers approached them. Newton said that’s not true -- that they were smoking a legal substance they had bought at a nearby smoke shop.
She said Pierre told the officer that.
“The interaction was very, very calm, very calm, until that first officer just grabbed Tony and tried to detain them without telling him what they were detaining them for,” Newton said.
Jennings has asked a judge to allow the body camera video to be released. He said the public deserves to see it. Newton agrees and believes the public will see the same thing the witness described to Channel 9 on Thursday.
“She was already subdued.... her arms were almost already in the handcuffs when 10 of those blows were delivered,” Newton said. “If that’s not excessive force, I don’t know what is.”
The hearing for the body camera video release petition is less than two weeks away. Channel 9 will be there and will provide the latest details.
Marijuana possession in Meck County
The circumstances of the arrest are controversial for more reasons than what happened in the video.
The call for service itself is not something the Mecklenburg County district attorney typically prosecutes.
In 2020, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather issued a memo about a change in his office’s approach to drug possession cases. He said the focus will be on the sale and trafficking of drugs and drug crimes linked to violence or weapons.
He said simple possession cases will be referred to recovery agencies instead of criminal prosecution.
The DA’s office is not directly commenting on Pierre and Lee’s arrests.
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