San Antonio Police Beat Pregnant WomanPart of a National Trend?
by William Grigg
Jul. 12, 2012
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Beating a tiny, handcuffed, pregnant woman is an appropriate use of force, according to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
On July 4, a San Antonio police officer spotted Destiny Rios walking on a city street and asked her name. After discovering an active warrant for prostitution, the officer attempted to arrest Rios. Two other officers arrived, handcuffed her, and threw her to the ground, where one of them struck the screaming woman at least nine times.
Rios is 5'1'' and weighs 126 pounds. She is also pregnant. Eyewitness Lorezno Rios (no relation), who captured the assault on video, recalled: "All I heard was her yelling to get off me. I heard her yell `I'm pregnant. She was already cuffed and they started to beat her."
Chief McManus insists that there was nothing amiss in the behavior of his officers. Beating a prone, tiny and handcuffed woman is justified, he said, "in order to get her to comply."
"Size makes no difference," maintained McManus, who declined to watch the citizen video of the assault. "It's the amount of fight in the person." Apparently there's enough "fight" in a 5'1", 126-pound pregnant woman to pose a significant threat to three large, armed police officers -- at least by McManus's calculations.
This is at least the third recent high-profile case of police abusing a pregnant woman.
Earlier this year in Georgia's DeKalb County, Raven Dozier -- who was roughly nine months pregnant -- was kicked in the stomach by Officer Jarad Wheeler and then arrested for "obstruction."
At the time, Raven was actually trying to help police officers during a domestic dispute between her brother and his estranged girlfriend. After a brief confrontation, the police tasered Raven's unarmed brother. Several officers then swarmed him and began to beat him.
"He's on the ground!" screamed Dozier. "You don't need to do that!"
"Shut the f**k up!" snarled one of the officers. When Dozier continued to protest, Officer Wheeler strode up to her and kicked her in the stomach with sufficient force to open a door.
For about fifteen minutes, the DeKalb County officers conferred with a supervisor outside the house — within earshot of Raven's brother, who was sitting, handcuffed, in the back of a police car.
"He kicked a pregnant woman," one of the officers reported.
"You've got to charge her with something," another replied.
After that discussion, several officers re-entered the home, where Dozier was on a couch trying to regain her composure.
Affecting concern for Dozier's welfare, one of officers asked if they could take a picture of the traumatized mother and asked her to put on pair of shoes and step outside the house for a moment to talk with the supervisor.
As soon as Raven had crossed the threshold of her home, she was placed under arrest for "obstruction."
Displaying uncommon good sense, the intake officer at DeKalb County Jail refused to book Dozier. Instead he sent her to a nearby hospital, where the expectant mother passed a small amount of blood and amniotic fluid. . A photograph of Raven taken after Wheeler's assault displayed a huge bruise across Dozier's abdomen. Two weeks later she gave birth to a son she named Levii by way of an emergency C-section.
In his official report of the incident, Wheeler did what police in such circumstances always do: He lied, claiming that he was dealing with an "aggressive" woman and that he used "a front push kick to the abdomen, as [I] was taught to do at the academy." It was only after he arrested this "aggressive" woman that he supposedly noticed her condition.
"Her condition was obvious to everyone," observes Dozier's attorney, Mark Bullman (who is a retired police officer). "She had gained seventy pounds in this pregnancy. The incident took place in a well-lit area, and she had spent a great deal of time standing alongside the police officers, attempting to calm her brother down and resolve the situation."
In June, Chicago resident Tiffany Rent, who was eight months pregnant, was tasered by a police officer during a dispute over a parking ticket. She had briefly parked in a handicapped-only space while her fiance, Joseph Hobbs, went into a Walgreen's store to buy batteries.
A cop who arrived on the scene wrote Rent a ticket, which the woman angrily tore to shreds. The officer then started to write a second citation for littering and demanded to know the woman's name. She angrily refused to comply and got behind the wheel of the SUV. The officer shot her with his Taser, and then arrested Hobbs when he tried to intervene in defense of his fiancĂ© and their unborn child. Both Hobbs and Rent were charged with misdemeanors.
Police superintendent Garry McCarthy characterized the officer's Taser attack as a justified use of force to prevent what he called "an escape" by a suspect. A more honest characterization of the episode would be summary punishment for "contempt of cop," as opposed to the necessary arrest of an actual criminal.
All three of these incidents involved women who were either entirely innocent (in the case of Raven Dozier) or suspected of non-violent offenses. Police actions of this kind in a foreign country would be condemned in a State Department human rights report. In the supposed Land of the Free they're considered entirely appropriate.