“Our officers are often placed in difficult situations that require actions that can be difficult to watch,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings shared on X — formerly known as Twitter — in response to a now-viral video involving a police officer.
The video that’s circulating online shows a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer repeatedly striking a woman who is lying on the ground. The woman in the video, identified as Christina Pierre, is closely surrounded by other officers.
According to a statement by the department, the incident happened Monday outside a Bojangles near South Tryon Street and West Arrowood Road.
Two people were smoking marijuana in public, police said. When officers approached the two individuals, according to police, the female subject punched an officer in the face.
Police allege the male subject on the scene had a firearm. Both people refused arrest, police said, and a struggle with officers ensued.
The male subject was arrested for possession of a gun.
The woman, police allege, laid on her hands to resist arrest.
Though it’s unclear in the video where the strikes landed, the statement shared says the officer threw multiple strikes to the female’s right thigh and stated, “stop resisting” several times.
“After several repeated verbal commands, an officer struck the female subject seven times with knee strikes and 10 closed fist strikes to the peroneal nerve in the thigh to try to gain compliance,” the statement said.
The department said the officer was intentional in where he struck the woman, saying, “Officers are trained to strike large muscle groups in order to gain compliance during an arrest.”
Chief Johnny Jennings said he has seen the body cam footage and believes it “tells more of the story than what is circulating on social media.”
In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Jennings said the primary officer’s body-worn camera was knocked out during the struggle. The department plans to get officer statements from those on the scene and examine additional footage from the scene.
Media outlets reported Pierre had bruises on the side of Pierre’s face. Jennings confirmed there were bruises on the woman’s face but could not confirm when or how they appeared.
“There is nothing that is very clear or visible to show that she was struck in the face area,” he said.
Jennings said he requested a court order to release the body cam footage to the public, which could take months.
“The public deserves the right to see the video,” Jennings said. “I believe the public will see this video.”
The officer involved has been reassigned from patrol, and it is “too early” to decide if any officers will be disciplined, Jennings said.
The race of the officer, a white man, and the female subject, who is Black, may cause a heightened sense of concern due to historical tensions and previous officer-related incidents.
Jennings said he plans to examine the video to identify any policing policies that need to change, specifically on how officers address marijuana smoking.
He said he wants the community to be patient for answers until further investigation is completed.
“We don’t want an incident such as this in the public eyes to define us as an agency,” Jennings said.
This article has been updated to include additional information provided in a CMPD press briefing.