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Deputies Punch Homeless, Mentally Ill Woman on Bus

Deputies Punch Homeless, Mentally Ill Woman on Bus

 

Two Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs have been videotaped hitting a woman with unspecified mental health and other disabilities. The incident happened Monday night, on a Metro bus in Bellflower. Jermaine Green and his fiancee Violet Roberts boarded a bus and noted another passenger, a woman with a stroller full of pillows who clearly had “special needs.” Two deputies, one male and one female, boarded the bus at the next stop and confronted the woman, grabbing at her and telling her to get off the bus. The male deputy punched her — and Green recorded everything on his cell phone video camera.

Said Green, who had just returned home after serving in the army for six years with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan:

I couldn’t believe it. He seen me taping. He looked up at the camera a few times, and he still hit her like that, and I can’t believe he didn’t try to diffuse the situation at all.

In the Army, they gave us extensive training for rules of engagement. There’s proper protocols and steps you take. This lady didn’t do anything, she wasn’t combative and he actually turned combative on her.

When Green refused to hand over the video, the deputies told him he could be arrested and asked if he had any warrants. Green answered, “I said no, I’m a veteran, I just came back, I have six years, I have no record, and he said ‘We’ll see about that.’”

On Wednesday, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the woman, who has not been identified, has had four prior convictions for assaulting law enforcement officers. Sheriff Lee Baca said the woman is homeless and had mental health issues and has a history of “verbal conflicts with people in the community” as well as officers. Another passenger on the bus had called 911 about her, saying that “She’s trying to pick a fight with anybody, she almost hit an old man. She was talking about how she got out of prison and ‘I’ll beat up all you guys.’” Neighbors said she had often been seen sleeping behind a local CVS and was “habitually aggressive.”

Besides Green’s video, the bus’s surveillance system recorded still images of the incident.

While the deputies had reason to be concerned about the woman, physically assaulting her was simply unnecessary. As Green pointed out, there are appropriate ways to engage someone in a crisis situation.

Furthermore, the woman’s situation — homeless and having mental health issues — points to another kind of crisis, the disintegration of services and programs for the mentally ill who end up living on the street and subsisting without any kind of care or support. The woman has been placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, but it sounds too likely that she will end up back on the street, back riding the bus and then back in difficulties with law enforcement. Is this what now passes for care for those with mental health disabilities?

 

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97 comments

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8:38AM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

SO MANY PROBLEMS. Police should be better trained to deal with mental problems. The woman is missing psychiatric care, on the street, and the repubs want to cut MORE social services. How terrifying it must be, to not have control of one's mind.

8:13AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

I don't know why this officer hit the woman, I wasn't there. If she is a known trouble maker, that has mental issues, they need to have officers that are trained in these situations.
Since the closing of so many care facilities, there are so many needy people that have been dumped out on the streets, with no help for them in sight.

11:05AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

LAPD strikes again...at least, they didn't shoot the poor woman. When are people going to take a stand, witness the crimes that law enforcement goons commit, record them on their digi-cams or phones, and start posting them on Facebook and youtube? We have to make the so-called "public safety officers" understand: THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.

11:22PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

This goes back to the time (I believe it was in the 1970's) that California closed so many of their mental institutions, and turned all those deemed not a 'danger to themselves, or others' out into the streets. It's quite possible that this particular lady is argumentive, but not really any danger to anyone. I knew a lady who was turned out of the mental facility near where I lived, when I lived in California - she was sweet, and had a few girlfriends she hung out with, for safety's sake. I helped her as much as I could. She had a couple stray dogs she'd decided to befriend, and I gave her leashes and collars for them, after she told me that one had gone into the street and been killed in traffic. I also gave her small sums of money when I could afford it. To have given her a larger amount, would have endangered her to mugging, or worse. She was not taught, nor told, how to apply for disability. She had a daughter out there somewhere, but she didn't know where.

8:02PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

That Nazi bastard should be beaten to within an inch of his life and when he heals beaten again along with every single person who supports him !

8:57AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

I am sorry that so many of you are making judgements without all the facts. The Officers were called to the bus by someone being harrassed by this women. Did anyone bother to demand to hear the 911 recording? This women has been arressted so many times for many things. I believe she does need help, so why not ask the question of our health care system as to why they keep letting her out? She is a danger to herself and those around her. Since this incident she has assaulted another Officer in another incident. Please, before passing judgement get ALL the facts. Her records are a matter of public record. As for the person who filmed this, I did not hear any thearts against him. I heard a few questions and the Officer demanding the video as it was part of the evidence that this women very quickly got over the top loud and spit on the Officers. Why is there not a Petition demanding she be treated by health care professionals instead of thrown back on the streets?

5:21PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

What's wrong with police officers in Los Angeles. I'm STILL upset about that poor homeless man they beat to death. Seriously, how many explanations of their violent behavior can these police officers do?

1:22AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

I signed the petition. This lady needed help. She didn't need to be hit.

11:35AM PST on Jan 21, 2012

Petition signed! That's so horrible and should not have happened. The trouble is that law enforcement obviously have no training when it comes to dealing with people that have mental illness or develpmental issues to it. They just want to throw their weight around and show how tough they are and use a one size fits all solution to law enforcement which is very small minded indeed. Painting entire groups of people with a single brustroke and broadly categorizing them is irresponsible not to mention morally reprehensible, but then what does law enforecemnt know about people, compassion or morals. They're not in the business of listening but in strongarming people. They pepper sprayed a 19 year old pregnant women and a petite 84 year-old woman last year during the Occupy protests, in addition to numerous other atrocities across the country so stuff like this is par for their course, but that doesn't make it right and they still need to be held accounatble for their actions since they are not above and beyond reproach (though in their arrogance they think they are).

Well put cassandra Y., SeattleAnn S. and Mary M. I agree with all of you.

11:09AM PST on Jan 21, 2012

The person who called 911 had no understanding of the mentally ill & the police should have acted with sympathy & compassion. If they knew beforehand she was homeless, they had no right to not give her help. A few months ago several police beat a mentally ill homeless man to death in CA, while he cried for help & didn't fight back. Something needs to be done. Get them off the force! The mentally ill can say things & still be innocent. We can learn to understand them when they aren't always capable of understanding.

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