An unnamed Detroit police officer who was captured on video viciously pummeling a naked black woman in a hospital has been suspended without pay.
Chief James Craig confirmed at a Thursday press conference that the officer, an 18-year veteran, and a corporal, has never had a “category one” use of force incident (when force leaves injuries) but was still under criminal investigation, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The deeply disturbing video came to light this week after a woman inside the Detroit Receiving Hospital who was visiting a family member sent the video to Fox2 Detroit.
The video shows the officer fighting the woman, while at least three others (another cop and two hospital security guards) were holding her.
The Free Press reports:
Craig said police responded to a call at 6:45 p.m. in the Third Precinct and found the woman completely naked. Surmising that she was having a mental health crisis, officers placed her in their marked scout car and brought her to the hospital. The woman was calm in the car and officers provided her with “some draping.” She was not handcuffed, which Craig said was a violation of protocol.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the woman grew agitated and began spitting on hospital staff. She attempted to bite the officer who beat her and successfully bit a security guard twice. The officer then began to strike her with his fists, Craig said.
The woman was treated for minor injuries and had some evidence of contusions. She is currently in stable condition, according to Craig. The police chief declined to confirm whether she has been diagnosed with any mental illness.
Craig, though seemingly defending his officer by saying that the video did not show the events leading up to the confrontation (and that they were working to get footage from body cameras), did note that he was “troubled” when the video appeared to show the officer continuing to strike the woman after she no longer posed a threat.
According to Fox2, Craig also used the press conference to stress the importance of treating mental illness, saying that more needs to be done around mental health treatment for the protection of officers (though those with mental illness are the ones being shot and killed by police at the greatest rate if the statistics are to be believed).
The woman’s boyfriend, Robert Dixon, who says he has an MS diagnosis, says that the brutalized woman has been his caretaker for the past eight years.
“She is a good person, it hurts me so bad to see her get beat like that,” said Dixon to Fox2 Detroit.
Dixon seemed to have confirmed the woman’s mental illness, saying that she started acting erratically after taking Haldol, an anti-psychotic.
“I gave her a place to stay and she did good but she started going crazy with the medicine it’s called Haldol,” said Dixon.
In a statement, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality condemned the incident. “When we looked at the video, we saw an officer with corporal stripes who had total disdain for a citizen who was obviously ill,” they wrote, according to the Free Press.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has been notified of the incident and is investigating.