The woman who was slammed to the ground by California police while eight months pregnant says she was scared for the life of her child.
The ACLU of Southern California released footage of Barstow officers taking Michelle Cooks to the ground while pleading with the officers to take care, because she was pregnant. The officers had responded to a traffic incident in which she and an unidentified white woman accused each other of hurling threats over a near collision.
“I felt like he took her word over mine automatically,” Cooks said. “He automatically assumed I was guilty.”
After Cooks refused to show ID, which she had a legal right to do, the argument between Cooks and the officer escalated.
“Cooks should not have been arrested for failure to identify herself,” an ACLU statement said. “A person who is not suspected of a crime has no obligation to identify herself. Even if an officer is conducting an investigation, in California (unlike some other states), he can’t just require a person to provide ID for no reason. The officer can ask for ID, but the person can say no.
“In California, as long as the request for ID is not reasonably related to the scope of the stop, you have the right to refuse to show your ID to law enforcement except in the following cases: If you’re driving and pulled over, you need to show ID (and) if you have been arrested or booked, show your ID,” the ACLU said.
She was then handcuffed with her hands behind her back. So, when she fell to the ground, she had no way to protect her stomach as she fell.
“She ended up on the ground and on her belly. She couldn’t use her hands to break her fall, and she was unable to pick herself up afterwards,” the ACLU said. “The ACLU has long advocated restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women. It’s a terrible idea to handcuff a pregnant woman behind her back. This video shows why.”
During the arrest, Cooks said, she was terrified that her baby had been damaged.
“I was in unbelievable pain,” she said. “I felt they killed my baby already.”
A crying Cooks also admitted, “I’m really scared. I’m trying to move out of Barstow now, like tomorrow.”