The president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP has filed a complaint with a city police practices review board over the arrest of an African-American woman May 1 as she walked her dog in Ocean Beach.
Francine Maxwell, president of the local NAACP office, said she wants the San Diego Community Review Board on Police Practices to investigate the woman’s arrest, which created a stir after it was recorded and shared on social media.
In her complaint, Maxwell said three officers involved in the arrest used excessive force, and she questioned whether they targeted the woman because of her race.
“These officers slammed this woman three times, put their knees into her back and even kicked her dog,” Maxwell wrote. “The use of force was excessive. The officers’ choice of victim, an African-American woman, raises questions of equity.
“Was she arrested because of her race? Was she assaulted because of her race? Would the officers have found a better way to deal with the situation if [she] had been white?”
A bystander recorded the arrest of the 36-year-old woman, who was wearing a white one-piece bathing suit and walking an unleashed dog when she was stopped.
A nine-minute video shared on YouTube shows the woman walking her dog on the beach, then taken to the ground twice by officers and handcuffed, once on the sand and once on asphalt. When the video starts, the woman is already cuffed.
Police officials said the woman was walking in an area where unleashed dogs are prohibited from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They said the woman refused to talk with lifeguards and police and tried to walk past them.
She was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public and resisting arrest after she slipped off her handcuffs twice, police spokesman Shawn Takeuchi said.
After a video of the arrest was shared on social media last weekend, San Diego Councilwoman Monica Montgomery issued a statement Monday calling for “equity in enforcement.” She also asked police leaders and the mayor’s office to look into the matter.
Takeuchi said Thursday that the department already has launched a review of the conduct of officers involved in the arrest to determine whether any policies or procedures were violated. The investigation will be reviewed by the Community Review Board on Police Practices, he said.
Maxwell said the review board’s review of the incident would ensure a “fresh pair of eyes” on how the police handled the call.
“We do not believe had this young woman been white that things would have happened as they did,” Maxwell said.
Sharmaine Moseley, executive director of the review board, said all complaints to the board are taken seriously and are confidential. She said the board plans to hold its next meeting May 26 using an online platform because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.