Texas woman sues police for being ‘kicked, punched’ by 4 cops after tampon request (VIDEO)
The case of Audra West, a Texas hairdresser who was severely beaten in a Florida jail, has received a boost after video emerged showing police officers handling her violently, without physical provocation. The police deny any wrongdoing.
West was on holiday when she was detained at a bar on Fort Lauderdale beach for being drunk in public and resisting arrest in May last year. She was then taken to the North Broward Detention Facility. After spending ten hours in the police station, her period began, and West asked Deputy Kristin Connelly for a tampon.
According to West’s lawyer, Gary Kollin, who spoke to RT, Connelly refused the request, asking the detainee to use a “polite” tone. West then rephrased it, but Connelly denied her again, with the inmate then mouthing “F**k you” at the officer.
This was the moment the incident escalated.
The CCTV footage, which was obtained by Florida’s Local 10 channel, Connelly put on a pair of latex gloves before marching towards West. Another deputy, Henry Lawrence can be seen trying to stop her from getting to the inmate.
"Don't do it, don't do it," Lawrence apparently told Connelly, according to an eyewitness present in the video, who spoke to Local 10 on condition of anonymity.
But Connelly sidesteps Lawrence, forcefully jerks West up from her seat, and begins violently swinging her towards a detention room on the far side of the police station waiting room. West appears uncooperative, and at one point attempts to land a punch on Connelly, but misses.
Connelly then pushes her down on the floor, and with the help of three more officers, the door is locked into the room, which has no video feed.
A subdued West emerges three and a half minutes later, escorted by the four deputies.
"I was on the floor on my stomach and Connelly punched me on this side of the face," said West. "And I was being kicked and stepped on from behind, and she was punching me in the face. She punched me in the eye several times."
West was then released without charge. She immediately made a series of photographs, detailing injuries all over her body, and contacted a lawyer, to file a case with internal affairs six days later.
“It was a horrible experience for her. You can see from the photos the severe black eye she received, and the emotional trauma is extreme,” said Kollin.
Despite police regulations that state that any violent confrontation with an inmate has to be reported in writing, Connelly had made no such report.
Yet upon receiving West’s lawsuit, Connelly filed a counter-claim, saying West resisted arrest, assaulted her, and scratched her face. Upon viewing the CCTV footage, assistant state attorney Mark Horn took West’s side, and no proceedings were opened against her.
“I did not see where Audra West presented a physical threat to the deputy before being forcefully dragged out of her chair into a room with four other deputies, where Audra West was allegedly beaten," said Horn to Local 10.
But despite support from Horn, West was unable to win the case against the four deputies. They were all cleared of improper conduct by a commission gathered by Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO), one of the biggest sheriff's offices in the US.
“The internal investigation gave the incident a whitewash, and cleared them. Who investigates the police? Other police officers in the same department,” Collin said, answering his own question.
Disregarding the release of the video, which had been seen by the disciplinary panel, but not the public, BSO continues to deny responsibility.
"The Professional Standards Committee (PSC), which is made up of a mix of BSO employees and private citizens, reviewed the video and entire IA file and recommended no discipline for all three employees," said a statement from Sheriff Scott Israel "The PSC determined the actions taken were within the policy."
West and Kollin now plan to take the case to a civil court, to obtain compensation, if not punishment for the perpetrators.
“We will take these deputies and the police department into federal court and – I say this confidently – we will obtain monetary damages for Audra,” Kollin told RT.