CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings spoke on Wednesday after a video that shows an officer striking a woman several times during an arrest went viral. Jennings said it could take ‘months’ before additional bodycam video is released to the public.

The ordeal began shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, in the 7700 block of South Tryon Street in the Steele Creek area, police said.

Officers observed Christina Pierre and Anthony Lee smoking marijuana at the bus stop. CMPD said the officers told them they were under arrest, and that is when Pierre became combative.

Chief Jennings said on Wednesday that unreleased bodycam footage shows that the officers tried to arrest both Pierre and Lee, and that’s when Pierre interfered, punching an officer in the face at least twice before the situation escalated. Both refused arrest at the scene, CMPD said.

Video Of Officer Striking Woman Goes Viral

Backup was called to the area and once Lee was taken into custody, officers found a concealed, loaded 9mm handgun in his bag. Pierre continued to resist arrest at the scene and after several commands to stop resisting, CMPD said an officer, identified as CMPD Officer Vincent Pistone, struck the woman’s right thigh in an effort to gain control.

“The officer who administered the strikes was intentional about where the strikes were made. The use of compliance strikes is included in CMPD’s response to resistance directives,” CMPD said on Wednesday.

There are still many questions about how many officers were involved in the interaction captured on camera and the use of force. Chief Jennings explained there’s an internal investigation happening now to answer those questions.

“If I look at this entire thing, are there things we can do better? Absolutely. Are there things that I wish would have never happened? Certainly. Are there things that I think we can take from this and become better as an agency? We’re committed to that, and we’re going to do that,” Chief Jennings said.

Use Of Force

North Carolina General Statute 15A-401 (d) (1)

Use of Force in Arrest:

(1)        Subject to the provisions of subdivision (2), a law-enforcement officer is justified in using force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary:

a.         To prevent the escape from custody or to effect an arrest of a person who he reasonably believes has committed a criminal offense, unless he knows that the arrest is unauthorized; or

b.         To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force while effecting or attempting to effect an arrest or while preventing or attempting to prevent an escape.

Charges In This Case

Pierre has been charged with assault on a government official, resisting, delaying, obstructing, and simple possession of marijuana. Lee has been charged with carrying a concealed firearm, resisting, delaying, obstructing, and simple possession of marijuana.

Photo: Christina Pierre (left) and Anthony Lee (right) via Mecklenburg County Jail

Officer Pistone has been placed on temporary assignment and is not actively on patrol at this time, due to conversations with community leaders and safety concerns for the officer, CMPD said.

Chief Jennings said on Wednesday he has petitioned the courts to release their bodycam footage but that it could take ‘months’ for that to happen.

Statement from CMPD Chief Jennings:

“I had the opportunity to view this video, and it is not easy to watch. I never want to see an officer, much less one of my own, involved in a situation like this. Our officers are trained to engage and interact with people and manage situations to the best of their abilities based on the training they receive. When individuals physically assault officers and refuse to comply with police and when they resist arrest, officers must physically engage with them to safely take them into custody.

Our officers are often placed in difficult situations that require actions that can be difficult to watch. CMPD works tirelessly to keep this community safe. I watched the body-worn camera footage and believe that it tells more of the story than what is circulating on social media. The public deserves to view this footage as well, but based on NC state law, I am not permitted to release body-worn camera footage without a court order. I have asked for our police attorney to file a petition with the court, so we are able to share this video with the public. This process will take time, but CMPD will update as soon as the court allows.”

Watch Wednesday’s full news conference here:

This is a developing story; check back for updates