BLOG SOUP - A pregnant woman who was pulled over for talking on her cellphone — and then hurled to the ground and hogtied by CHP officers on the shoulder of the busy Harbor Freeway — has been paid $250,000 in damages. (Isn't this special?)
The 30-year-old woman was charged with resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license, but the charges were dropped after a judge was shown a video of the incident, captured on a camera mounted on the dashboard of a California Highway Patrol cruiser.
You'll see why:
Once she pulls to the shoulder, after first pulling into the fast lane and appearing to cut off other drivers, a pair of CHP officers orders her to toss out her car keys, get out of her dark green Dodge Caravan and put her hands on the vehicle.
Instead, the video shows, she stands and stares at the patrolmen, appearing confused. Officers, in their official report, said she appeared to raise her arms in a menacing manner.
The action caught on the video picks up quickly from there:
Guns drawn, the officers approach the driver, and one of the patrolmen sweeps away her legs with a kick and pushes her face-first to the asphalt. Another officer then presses his knee into the woman's back and pins her to the ground.
At another point, it appears the woman is kicked in her left ribs. Eventually she is hogtied and placed in a squad car.
"I'd never seen a gun for real before," Gaglione said later. "I just froze. I was scared they'd shoot me."
Tamara Gaglione said she told the officers she was pregnant when they first approached her, but Officer Daniel Hernandez — one of the initial officers on the scene — said she didn't mention that until she was on the ground.
Hernandez said in his report that he kneed the woman in an effort to distract her so that his partner, Officer Roberto Martinez, could handcuff her.
In their report, the officers said the incident had escalated because the woman had ignored their orders and appeared to raise her arms in an aggressive manner after hopping out of the van.
The cops are all still on the job.
Oh, and by the way, it's a miracle the judge ever saw this video. If he hadn't, the victim would have very likely been convicted of resisting arrest:
When Tamara Gaglione was stopped on the side of a freeway for talking on her cellphone, she had no idea she'd end up hogtied and lying face down in the back of a police car.
But that's exactly what happened to the 30-year-old woman, 2 months pregnant at the time. When California Highway Patrol officers pulled her over to the side of the 110 highway Aug. 30, 2011, they slammed her to the ground, hogtied her and shoved her in the back of their patrol car.
On the way to the station, she could hear officers discussing video of the encounter candidly, said attorney Howard Price to The Huffington Post. But when Price requested the video as evidence for Gaglione's criminal trial, he was told there was no footage of the incident.
"I went back to them, and I said, 'Look, am I stupid? This involved a chase. There must be a videotape,'" said Price. Eventually the prosecutor handed over footage from a backup officer's camera, which showed nothing.
Finally, he was told the footage existed, but that no one could transfer the data to another medium -- so he had to go to the CHP station himself to view it. Price made sure to record the footage for himself, and he uploaded the shocking video to YouTube.
I wonder if all lawyers are that persistent? I doubt it.
There are lots of budget problems here in California. You'd think the authorities would be a little bit more concerned about having to pay out quarter million dollar settlements for yahoo cops who have the judgement of hot-headed teenagers. At the very least you'd think they would get rid of employees who cost the taxpayers this kind of money.
(Digby is the pseudonym of progressive political blogger Heather Parton from Santa Monica, California who founded the blog Hullabaloo … where this commentary first appeared.)
Vol 11 Issue 7
Pub: Jan 22, 2013