VIDEO: Austin police punch woman accused of camping, resisting arrest

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A video taken of an arrest in northeast Austin appears to show an officer punching a woman several times as she’s restrained on the ground.

The incident happened after Austin police say in an arrest affidavit that she refused to get up from the ground at an Austin shopping mall, in addition to scratching one of the officers.

APD released a statement Monday night, saying “in addition to the bystander video on social media, it is reviewing body-worn camera and in-car video of the incident.” APD added “anytime a police officer uses force, the incident deserves to be scrutinized.”

According to the affidavit, Simone Nicole Griffith, 26, was seen camping/sleeping on the side of the Carousel Pediatrics-Springdale building in the area of 7112 Ed Bluestein Boulevard on Oct. 30 at around 5:15 p.m.

APD reports a criminal trespass notice was issued by a security guard for the complex, but Griffith still refused to leave. The responding officer says she still refused to get up and was aggressively cursing, saying “Shut the f— up, I ain’t doing nothing. I know the m—–f—–g law, b—-!” The officer says because of her behavior, he called for a second unit to report to the scene.

The officer says he indicated to Griffith she was under arrest, and she said, “No I am not. I don’t have to get up for you. You are not the law, b—-.”

When additional help arrived, the officer says he and another officer tried getting Griffith up from the ground, but she wouldn’t. The officer says at this point, they were trying to place handcuffs on her while she was on the ground, but she pulled her hands away and then hit and scratched his face.

“[We] proceeded to tell [Griffith] not to resist but she kept fighting back,” the affidavit reads.

At this point in the video, one of the officers can be seen punching Griffith at least five times in the upper body.

The affidavit claims officers “ultimately had to use force to apprehend her even though Nicole was already notified that she was under arrest.”

In the affidavit, he claims Griffith’s scratches resulted in a 1/2 inch bloody laceration to the left side of my cheek, in addition to kicking my torso/hip area.”

Griffith is charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest and criminal trespassing. Griffith has been arrested several times in the past and has been charged with resisting arrest in another Texas city.

Here’s APD’s full statement:

“In addition to the bystander video that is circulating on social media, APD is also reviewing body-worn camera and in-car video, which shows additional perspectives. Anytime a police officer uses force, the incident deserves to be scrutinized. APD has a robust force review process. This process starts with the on-scene supervisor and ends with a review by the Force Review Unit and the officers’ Chain of Command. Once all of the evidence is gathered, the facts of the incident are reviewed for compliance with APD Policy and State Law. At any time during this review, if it determined there are possible policy violations, an Internal Affairs investigation will be initiated.”

A use of force expert’s opinion on the video

A use of force expert KXAN spoke with said all law enforcement agencies have an investigations process related to violations in department policies or use of force incidents, he said.

Typically, it involves the agency’s internal affairs department investigating the incident and sending a finalized report to the officers’ higher ups, including any recommendations for discipline if the department feels that is justified.

He said the police chief makes the ultimate decision on whether an officer is disciplined, and what that disciplinary action would entail. He added that a video doesn’t provide all the details related to what happened between officers and the people they’re interacting with and that use of force decisions are made in real time based on present circumstances.

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