CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — An eyewitness claims she saw a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer hit a 24-year-old woman in the face during a controversial arrest Monday afternoon.
Videos continue to surface on social media that show parts of the interaction at a bus stop off South Tryon Street between Christina Pierre, Anthony Lee, and CMPD officers.
Donna from South Carolina says she was at Bojangles on her lunch break and witnessed the full arrest that escalated quickly and lasted less than 30 minutes.
“The couple wasn’t doing anything wrong. I don’t know what provoked it to begin with,” Donna said. “Everything was quiet. The day was going on as normal. The police officers walked up and then everything went to pieces.”
New cellphone video shows a single CMPD officer on top of 24-year-old Christina Pierre. She is heard yelling in the video.
The video shows officers arriving as backup to arrest Pierre and her fiancé, 37-year-old Anthony Lee. Donna says she saw the officer in the new video punch Pierre in the face.
“He punched her like you would a man, and she hit the ground and he got on top of her, and that’s where she stayed until the rest of the officers showed up,” Donna said.
Pierre’s attorney Lauren Newton from Tin, Fulton, Walker & Owen showed pictures of Pierre’s bruised face claiming she’s a victim of excessive force at the hands of two CMPD officers.
“She doesn’t want this to happen to someone else. This is her first encounter with law enforcement ever, much less CMPD and at this point, she just feels vindicated and thankful for these witnesses coming forward,” Newton said. “Her spirit is broken, but thankfully there were no facial fractures. The Emergency Department confirmed that there were no facial fractures, but she does have still significant bruising to her face as a result of that punch. We don’t think the officers who arrived later, those four officers who were holding her down and then the one that delivered the 17 punches that CMPD is calling compliance blows. We don’t think they knew that that first officer struck her.”
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings says there is a part of the interaction that is not shown on police body camera.
“There was a struggle with a single officer that occurred before his backup did arrive,” Jennings said. “We think that if those abrasions or bruising on her face occurred it would have occurred during that struggle at some point. Unfortunately, that officer’s body-worn camera was knocked off during the struggle, and you can just barely see it in the corner of that struggle, as it continued above the body-worn cameras.”
Donna says she called police to report what she saw during the controversial arrest but claims her concerns weren’t acknowledged.
“She said if you want to call somebody that wants to hear it, you might call, and I think she said internal affairs,” Donna said.
Newton says several more witnesses have come forward this week with statements and videos.
“I’m hoping that somebody’s gonna come forward with a video that’s going to show what I’m saying,” Donna said. “Not because I’m worried about people thinking that I’m lying that I could care less what people think about me, but this girl needs justice. What happened to her was unbelievable.”
The Mecklenburg County Courthouse has scheduled a hearing for the release of the video for Nov. 30.
In a statement Thursday evening, CMPD says Pierre struck an officer while resisting arrest, and that an officer did in fact hit her in response.
The ongoing investigation shows Ms. Pierre assaulting an officer by striking him multiple times in the face as she is resisting arrest. We can now confirm based on interviews and witness accounts that an officer, in response to being physically assaulted, returned a strike to Ms. Pierre’s face one time. This strike occurred during the initial encounter at the bus stop with the responding officers prior to the struggle on the ground involving several other officers.
State law authorizes anyone to use reasonable force to defend themselves. Consistent with state law, CMPD police authorizes officers to use reasonable force to take a resisting person into custody.
The internal investigation into the recent arrests of Christina Pierre and Anthony Lee on Nov. 13 is active and ongoing.Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department