Pregnant woman’s arrest sparks controversy

(CNN) – What Michelle Cooks screams is unmistakable.  Eight months pregnant she still ends up on the pavement with the Barstow police officer cuffing her.

Cooks was dropping off her second-grade daughter at school and had a parking lot confrontation with this blonde woman.

She had refused to give the responding officer her full name.  Cooks was charged with resisting arrest, charges dismissed after a judge saw the body cam video.

“I couldn’t even describe how much pain I was in. I thought they had killed my baby already,” said Cook.

Her baby girl was born healthy weeks later.  This video is shocking, but not the only time police arresting a pregnant woman is caught on camera.

Last September, NYPD officers arrested Sandra Amezquita, she intervened as police arrested her son for carrying a knife.

She is visibly pregnant, but still forced to the ground, belly first.   The NYPD has launched an internal investigation.

That’s what Jessica Benn told this Denver police officer as he held a baton against her throat earlier this month.

Benn had been protesting police brutality, when police began arresting protesters.  Denver police say their internal investigation is ongoing.

Then there’s this incident in Rochester from 2013.  Police say Brenda Hardaway pointed pepper spray at officers responding to a disturbance call.

To local media outlets, the Rochester police chief defended his officers’ actions, saying his officers showed quote “tremendous restraint.”

ACLU attorney Jessica Price disagrees and says video examples show a need for more protection of pregnant women as they’re being arrested.

She points to a 2012 ACLU study which found 18 states prohibit or restrict the cuffing of pregnant women, but this is limited to inmates in prison.

“That means we’re protecting people who are already in custody, we’re protecting their pregnancy more than we are protecting people who happen to be out on the street, going about their business,” said Price.

But preventing cops from cuffing pregnant women may not be realistic.

CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes says what would have prevented Cooks’ incident if she’d listened to the police officer, “Unless she pulls out a machine gun and starts World War 3, there’s no way it’s going to have an outcome that makes the officer look like a reasonable officer doing his duty.”

The Barstow police officer was wrong about one thing. Under California law, Cook did not have to show her ID to the police officer.

Underscoring that, CNN obtained this training bulletin that was issued by the Barstow Police Department to its own officers and read this one line, “Under California law, a detained suspect cannot be forced to identify himself, or be subject to arrest for refusing to do so.”

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