Family and friends of an 18-year-old Wisconsin woman are asking that charges against her be dropped since video of her controversial arrest went viral, WKOW reports.
Genele Laird, 18, is facing charges of disorderly conduct while armed, resisting police (causing injury), battery to a police officer and discharging bodily fluids after an incident that occurred at the East Towne Mall in Madison, Wis., Tuesday evening.
According to the report, officers were called to the mall to deal with a woman mall security described as "out of control and making threats." Authorities said Laird confronted a Taco Bell employee, claiming her phone had been stolen, before brandishing a knife and threatening the employee. Laird reportedly refused to leave the mall and made threats to kill security staff.
When officers from the Madison Police Department attempted to arrest her, police say Laird resisted their attempts, allegedly spitting in the eyes of one of the officers. Police say they did recover a knife.
Arresting officers were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released, officials say.
However, now-viral video of the arrest is causing a stir, leading to a protest outside the Public Safety Building in Madison. According to the report, protesters held a banner reading, "Hands Off Black Women."
In the video, officers are seen forcefully taking Laird to the ground as she struggles. An officer then strikes the teen with his knee multiple times and also punches her in the abdomen. A Taser was also used while Laird was on the ground, with two officers attempting to handcuff her.
"I just want to say Genele is a good child, a good young lady," a woman identified as Laird's aunt told WKOW in another report. "She's a loving person. She loves animals, she's assistant manager for her store. She doesn't have any record. What happened to her was unfair. She didn't deserve this. No one deserves this, what happened to her."
"You got this perfect child who has done nothing," Laird's friend, identified only as Johnny, told the station. "Y'all, they hurt her. They hurt her. Don't no one deserve that. No one wants their child, wants their daughter to be aggressively taken down like that by the police."
Laird's family and friends said that the teen has never been in trouble before and that the police used excessive force.
"It's terrible, and she was a good person; she didn't deserve this. And I hope they drop all charges. I hope they drop all charges," Johnny said.
"All of us very clearly communicated our concerns with the level of force that we witnessed. It was very horrifying to watch that video. Very concerning to watch that video," Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Taylor said.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain confirmed that Chief Mike Koval ordered an internal review of the incident.