There’s a viral video of police officers in Alabama wrestling with a black woman and throwing her on the floor at a local Waffle House. Her breasts are exposed during the altercation, and at one point, one of the officers places his hand around her neck. This all happened during an arrest early Sunday morning and the video is sparking a lot of uproar.
“What are you doing?” 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons asks during the struggle with officers. “I’ll break your arm, that’s what I’m about to do,” an officer replied.
It’s not clear from the video who initiated the struggle, but according to a news conference with Saraland police, the video doesn’t show the full story.
Evidence displayed at the news conference included a 911 call from the Waffle House employee. The restaurant worker claimed that three people – including Clemons— walked in with alcohol and were acting “drunk and disorderly.”
“The situation then escalated between the patrons at that table and the employees,” Detective Collette Little said. “At this point, the employee has asked the patrons to leave the establishment, which the first female and gentleman does.” But shortly after, the women returned and reportedly started yelling profanities at the workers. One witness claimed that one of the women threatened to come back to the Waffle House and “shoot this place up if I need to.”
Ben Crump, Chikesia Clemons’ attorney who’s best known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin, says his client was “assaulted,” “choked,” and “brutalized” by law enforcement. At a press conference in Mobile on Wednesday, Crump said one of the Waffle House employees told Clemons to “know your place,” and he believes that had racial overtones.
He also added that witnesses said Clemons didn’t appear to be drunk and she was allegedly speaking clearly and concisely before and after her arrest.
The police are defending the arrest and called the arm-breaking threat “a cause-and-effect statement, rather than a threat.”
“It’s common when an officer is using a technique to take a subject into custody that the force used could possibly create an injury,” Little said.
Clemons was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. In response, members of the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter began protesting outside the Waffle House.