Lawyer: No drugs, booze in woman beaten by officer

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — An attorney for a woman seen on video being repeatedly punched by a California Highway Patrol officer said tests show she had no drugs or alcohol in her system.

Drivers who called 911 before the incident said 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock was barefoot on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway or attempting to cross lanes of traffic and appeared high or drunk. One caller said she appeared “loaded.”

Attorney Caree Harper said Pinnock has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the homeless woman was off her medications for roughly two to three months when the July 1 altercation occurred.

The medication “tends to make you drowsy so she had to regulate when she gets drowsy for safety purposes,” Harper said.  She added that Pinnock was previously misdiagnosed with a different mental illness and had been failed by the system.

Highway Patrol Woman Punched

In this July 1, 2014 image made from video provided by motorist David Diaz, a California Highway Patrol officer straddles a woman while punching her in the head on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway. (AP Photo/David Diaz)

The CHP said Pinnock was endangering herself by walking on Interstate 10 and the officer was trying to restrain her. The agency has pledged a rapid investigation.

CHP spokeswoman Sgt. Melissa Hammond couldn’t confirm whether the agency has Pinnock’s medical records but said if it did, they wouldn’t be released because of the investigation.

The woman whose videotaped beating by a California Highway Patrol officer sparked outrage told The Associated Press on Sunday that she believes the officer was trying to kill her and she wants him fired.

Pinnock recalled being repeatedly punched in the head while being pinned by the officer.

“He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me, he beat me. I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death,” Pinnock said.

Pinnock was released from the hospital last week after several weeks of treatment for head injuries, and now, she slurs her speech, Harper said.

She’s suing CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow and Officer Daniel L. Andrew in federal court for civil rights violations. The lawsuit claims excessive force, assault, battery and a violation of her due-process rights.

The CHP won’t confirm the identity of the officer, but the agency said he had been on the job for 1 1/2 years and is on desk duty pending completion of the internal investigation. Andrews’ name appears in a document related to the encounter.

Farrow met with community and civil rights leaders in Los Angeles multiple times last month and pledged that the investigation will conclude in weeks rather than the usual months.

Pinnock said she had been homeless for the last three to five years, occasionally staying at a shelter, a family member’s home or living on the streets.

She said she was on her way to a place frequented by the homeless where she said she could feel safe to fall asleep.

Harper said the area was accessed by walking along the freeway ramp.

She was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold by Andrew after the encounter, according to a document obtained by the AP.

Andrew said in his report that she was a danger to herself and wrote that “upon contacting the subject she was talking to herself. The subject began telling me ‘I want to walk home’ and called me ‘the devil.’ The subject then tried to walk into traffic lanes.”

CHP investigators in July served a search warrant for Pinnock’s medical records and the clothing she was wearing during the encounter from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Pinnock is being supported by Harper to keep her off the street and is essentially “starting from scratch,” her attorney said.

Pinnock said she’s had nightmares about being beaten. However, she was also thankful for the support she’s received and said she was indebted to the motorist who stopped to record the incident.

“Without the video my word may have not meant anything,” she said.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams.

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