A sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was caught on video as he held a Black woman by her hair and slammed her to the ground multiple times.
According to NOLA.com, that deputy is now under investigation by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for his actions during the Sept. 20 incident–which witnesses at the scene say was unprovoked.
In fact, this all happened moments after the woman, Shantel Arnold, was assaulted by a group of local boys. NOLA reports that her small stature made her a regular target for bullying from others in the neighborhood.
Disheveled and covered in dirt, Arnold stumbled down the road towards her home when an unidentified JPSO deputy rolled up beside her in his patrol car.
In the transcript of her interview with an internal affairs investigator, Arnold, says: “I’m on my way home. I ain’t make it all the way to the block, the police come out of nowhere, swarming, getting me like, ‘Come here.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on? I just got beat up by two children, what ya’ll doing?’”
Arnold said the deputy demanded she stop and talk to him. She told him she had just been assaulted, wanted to go home and continued walking.
According to Gray and another witness, Arnold’s uncle, Tony Givens, the officer jumped out of his vehicle, grabbed Arnold and threw her to the ground, unprovoked. Gray and Givens were standing at the foot of the family’s driveway, about 20 feet away.
“She didn’t have a chance to pull away because, you know, this guy was strong. He grabbed her arm, and some kind of move he made, and she went down to the ground. ... So I was walking up to him and he told me, ‘If you come any closer I’m going to kick everybody’s ass out here.’ So, I said ... ‘you don’t have to use that type of force on that little woman right there, she’s a midget.’”
The cellphone video of the incident has been shared over 130,000 times on social media, according to NOLA.
It’s not known who shot it, but it’s the only existing footage that shows what happened since Jefferson Parish deputies didn’t use body cameras at that time. That will change in December, per WDSU, as the department announced on Thursday that it will order 500 body cameras for deputies to use in the field.
Arnold told NOLA that her altercation with the deputy left her with several bruises and scratches, a busted lip and recurring headaches. She was not charged with a crime afterward. In a statement, Louisiana’s ACLU said the video was another testament to how often the sheriff’s department “targets and brutalizes innocent, unarmed members of the Black community.”
An investigative report published by ProPublica last month highlighted the accounts of other Black residents of Jefferson Parish that echoed the ACLU’s sentiment, while also providing data that helped back up their claims as well.
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Sam Walker, emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, called the deputy’s actions in the video “outrageous” and questioned whether the Sheriff’s Office properly trains its deputies in control tactics or de-escalation techniques.
“There are essentially two answers here. One is they do, and he ignored his training,” Walker said. “Or answer number two is no, they don’t, which is to say their training program is completely unacceptable. So, it’s either him or the organization.”