A video clip has surfaced showing an Atlanta officer kicking a handcuffed black woman in the face while his partners look on impassively.
The officers were taken off the streets this week after the video clip of the incident on Monday was placed on social media and went viral.
“It was a woman down on the ground in handcuffs. I am totally horrified,” her aunt, Nell Gibson, told a local CBS affiliate. “I’m speechless. Not only that, it’s a police officer.”
According to Gibson, the woman had mental health issues and may not have been taking her medication.
“Ashley does have some mental health problems. We thought she was off her meds because she’s been acting kind of off,” Gibson said.
The attacking police officer was suspended while the other was placed on administrative leave because she failed to intervene, the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Upon reviewing the video, the actions of the sergeant appear to be unacceptable and we are also concerned with the apparent lack of reaction from another officer present during the incident,” the APD wrote.
“The actions of those in the video appear to fall outside our standards and training. However, it is important for the Office of Professional Standards to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident.”
On Monday afternoon, police in the Summerhill neighborhood responded to a call about a woman walking around the area and pointing a gun at several people.
Officers detained the woman, and requested she go to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. They then returned her to her family without making any criminal charges. Not before APD abused her multiple times, though, the woman, who recorded the video, said.
“She was spitting at the officer and then she had already spit on him once before but it didn’t get on him, so she spit on him again and it got on his boots and that’s when he decided to kick her in the face,” she told the CBS affiliate.
The officers also allegedly kicked the woman down a hill.
“Nothing justifies” this kind of behavior, said Gerald Griggs, vice president of the Atlanta NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
“Shocked and angered,” Griggs said, talking to Fox 5 Atlanta. “You know we’ve been talking about community-police relations for a long time in Atlanta. And to see something like that, a handcuffed individual kicked in the face, nothing justifies that. So, you know, the NAACP got involved, started investigating, reached out to the police chief, made contact with the family, and ultimately we’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Cities across the United States have been the scene of protests over police brutality and racial profiling against African Americans in recent years.
Meanwhile, the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, in Minneapolis by a white police officer last year reignited debates about the scale of US police violence and discrimination against people of color.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd was choked to death after former white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.