California officer wrestles pregnant woman to the ground

May 30, 2015
Charlena Michelle Cooks

Charlena Michelle Cooks

The ACLU has released footage of a California police officer tackling an eight-months pregnant woman and wrestling her to the ground. [LA Times]

Charlena Michelle Cooks has just dropped off her daughter at elementary school when the Barstow police officer demanded that she provide identification due to an alleged road rage incident. When Cooks refused to provide ID, the officer grabbed her arms and attempted to place her hands in cuffs.

The policeman then wrestled her to the ground and completed the arrest. Cooks screamed as she fell face first on the ground.

“Do not touch me. I am pregnant,” Cooks said. “Please, I am pregnant. Please stop this.”

The incident occurred in January. Cooks says she gave birth in March.

Cooks is black, and it appears the officer is white. The Barstow Police Department said Cooks actively resisted arrest and denied the incident was racially motivated.

The ACLU says Cooks’ arrest was unlawful because California law allows a person to refuse to provide ID.

“I actually have the right to ask for your name,” the officer said during the incident.

Police only charged Cooks with obstructing justice. The charge was dropped, according to San Bernardino County court records.

Dirk Anderson

Pages of analysis and machination, a Lawyers dream.

Police are part of a powerful Police Union that stands up for them. You go to court they have everything in thier favor: Stand there looking spiffy in uniform, under color of authority. They even get paid to be there.

In general, the Legal system is there to maintain a civil society, not provoke it. Nor be just some mere administrative tool of authority for the sake of authority (or revenue generation), more times than not a front for corruption itself.

I’m not impressed with any of it. Stand there in front of that kind of ignorance with a badge.

Perhaps I’m off topic (specialization is for insects), but it is not all about this pregnant Lady. There are times I feel like I’m in some sort of Stasi Surveillance Police State.

The dimunition of rights and liberties with 911 and these bull crap drug wars trumped up as an excuse is what should be addressed.

82 thumbs down Moderator! least I’m not a ferret.

Jorge Estrada

Having any comment on this event would be like shaking a hornet’s nest. I tip my hat to law enforcement.


She was dropping off her daughter at school, so I assume that she was driving. An officer can demand to see a person’s driver’s license when investigating a crime and the driver must provide their license to the police. But, wrestling a woman to the ground and put her in handcuffs is crazy. She presented no threat to the officer or other people and certainly was not going to be able to escape. A little patience and better training could avoid this gross use of power.

Veritas Aequitas

At 4:56 on the tape the man said he would give the woman TWO MINUTES to research her legal rights. She was ON THE PHONE DOING SO. He gave her TEN SECONDS and then assaulted her. Yes, it’s an assault. She had the right to find out whether she was required to give her name–it’s not something you can “unsay” if you later find out you had the right not to give it!–and he was just too bloody impatient and anxious to attack her. That suggests he himself was not too sure of their respective rights, and he was afraid she might find out she did not have to tell him–otherwise, why not let her find out for herself? She wasn’t running away, she was just trying to find out what she was LEGALLY required to do in a situation where she had good reason to feel threatened. Clearly she was pregnant–he should have been able to tell that himself, but if not, there was no reason not to take her word for it. He did NOT have to be so assaultive; the TWO officers could clearly have stood back for at least the promised two minutes. Then, if he decided he just bloody well had to arrest her (yes, because she’s black, and has a different attitude toward “poLICEmen” than the white complainant has), he could have told her, “You are under arrest. Turn and face the fence and put your hands behind your back.” Did he do that? Did he even try? NOT! He just grabbed her and started jerking her around. OF COURSE she is going to feel threatened when a white woman accuses her and two white officers start feeling their…let’s call it “oats”… and manhandle her without warning. And anyone who thinks she should just have calmly accepted being arrested in the parking lot of her daughter’s school–when the officer had said there was no evidence of a crime, he had told her she could have two minutes to get advice about her rights, and then instead he immediately physically attacked and wrestled her to the ground while she was on the phone–is completely blind to the realities of unequal treatment in our society. Any reasonable person viewing that video would understand that her fears were completely valid–the video proves it. She was mistreated. I’m not saying she should get a big monetary settlement for it, but I am saying it was wrong, and the officers should have been disciplined and re-educated, not supported by their superiors. As for all those who think she should have said something specific (“Am I under arrest?” “Are you holding me?”, etc.): It’s very easy to feel all superior when you are looking down your nose at someone from the safety of a computer terminal, but that’s the kind of legal advice not everyone in a scary situation has at the tip of her tongue. She was wise enough to try to GET advice, and that scared the cop into assault.


All those who think that she should have just answered the questions and she would have been free to go on her way are likely the beneficiaries of “white privilege.” Minorities and others who are considered “lesser” elements of society are much more likely to be hassled for any perceived “lack of cooperation” whether legally justified or not. It tends to wear on peoples sense of fairness and justice after awhile which is why such people tend to be a bit touchy about such abuse. It may not be something you have experienced before but they often have had such an experience or know someone else who has. At some point, anyone with a sense of individual dignity will rebel against the too frequent abuses by officials who are supposed to be “serving and protecting” them.

Similarly, not everyone has the resources to fight the battles in court when they are abused. Our legal system is expensive both in terms of the costs of attorneys and in terms of lost income while the battle is being fought. Some employers won’t tolerated even a day’s absence because they assume that an arrest is justified. And then there is the issue of bail. Depending upon the charges, even the 10%(?) bail bondsmen require upfront may be out of the range of some people. As for the ACLU and other “pro-bono” attorneys, they are not available for all cases and public defenders are often so over-loaded that competent legal defense may be unavailable if you don’t have sufficient resources to pay a good attorney full price.


The only reason this case is different is because the officer already had stated that he didn’t believe a crime had been committed therefor he had no probable cause..


An officer needs probable cause to arrest a person. An officer only needs reasonable suspicion to detain a person. Not all reasonable suspicions lead to probable cause. Sometimes the officer is wrong on his reasoned suspicion–because suspicions can end up being in error–but it doesn’t mean you can just walk or run away from a detention.

This lady turned a border line wrongful detention into a crime by resisting and delaying the police officer from his duties. She’s lucky the Judge threw the case out. Many a Judge wouldn’t be so lenient after watching her on the video.

CA Penal Code Section 148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or

obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical

technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797)

of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to

discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other

punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding

one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail

not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.


For anyone who thinks this is a rare event:

So common that it is a constant joke, retold from generation to generation, almost every basket has a few bad apples.


But too often those bad apples are not thrown away but are left in the basket to contaminate the other apples. We might feel different if just once those bad apples are put away for good, not allowed to retire or such.


I will never understand the people who resist law enforcement officers. Yes you may have the legal right to refuse to provide your ID to the officer, but the smart play is to give the officer what they are requesting. These officers have maybe the most difficult job in the USA and there is a growing attitude to challenge them at every opportunity. Granted the LE officer may not always be 100% correct but for the most part they are trying to protect society. So just cooperate and if the error is egregious then you can later contact the ACLU or some other organization and challenge the officer. These officers deserve our respect and cooperation!


I have always complied with Police when asked for ID, however, do you think it would be reasonable to ask the cops as to why they want to see your ID before you give it?

This isn’t a statement, I am actually curious as to what most people think.

I completely agree that they deserve our respect and cooperation, they deal with a lot of bad people and have to assume that everyone is bad or else they may end up dead.


These officers are not even close to having the most difficult job in the U.S.A.. It would probably go to electrical linemen or nurses. The job of a police officer is not particularly dangerous either, ranking somewhere around #25 on the list, so I fail to understand why people continue to repeat the mantra that they risk their lives every day to protect others. Again, linemen, who provide electricity for light, have the #1 most dangerous job and probably provide more protection than any other profession. Return the right for every citizen to keep and bear arms and be done with this nonsense propaganda


Hold on a minute. People posting here are saying that a person doesn’t have to show an ID unless they’re arrested. That’s not true. You can be required to produce an ID anytime an LE believes that you have committed a crime or may have committed a crime. For instance if your pulled over for any traffic violation, you clearly have to show an ID even if you don’t believe that you ran the stop sign, etc. Likewise if you fit the description of a criminal that they’re looking for, etc.

The only reason this case is different is because the officer already had stated that he didn’t believe a crime had been committed therefor he had no probable cause..Probable cause can be far reaching but one thing I’ve seen that I know is illegal is when a person is pulled over for a traffic violation and the officer decides to ID everyone in the vehicle. That is an example of when you need to ask the LE why and what is your probable cause?

At least the above is my understanding of the law regarding having to identify oneself when asked. If I’m wrong, please correct me.