Calls for justice for homeless woman seen being hit by DeKalb County officer
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Community leaders are calling for justice for the homeless woman seen being hit by a DeKalb County Police officer in a video which surfaced on social media within the past week.
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Those leaders held a news conference on Friday calling the interaction between the woman and the police officer "savagery."
"We are very, very, very, very, very, very concerned about this lone police officer who acted out of savagery. Actually, beat a woman. Never in civilized society is that acceptable," said Rev. Steven N. Dial, Sr., Executive Director, DeKalb County Pastors Alliance.
Thursday, Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it will investigate the incident at the request of DeKalb County CEO Michael L. Thurmond. Officer P.J. Larscheid was placed on administrative leave Wednesday pending the outcome of a second internal investigation. He was initially cleared of any wrong-doing, but Monday, police said they reopened their investigation after a bystander’s video recording of the incident went viral on social media.
"I heard some scrambling going on and she was on the phone and he was just beating her," Stacy Zachery said, who witnessed the encounter.
Stacy Zachery shot the video that has led DeKalb County Police to reopen the investigation into the officer's use of force during an arrest at the Decatur gas station last month.
“Something just went through my heart when I heard the first kick. He hit everything on her body except for the bottom of her feet," said Zachery.
The incident occurred on June 4 after officers were called to a store in the 3300 block of Glenwood Road, on a complaint that a female was soliciting customers inside the location.
Officials said in the statement released Monday that since the department has received “new evidence, we have reopened the investigation and will determine the incident is consistent with policy and the law.” Police said the officer filed a “use of force” report on the incident, but the officer was cleared after an internal investigation by the DeKalb County Police Department.
Upon arrival, the female suspect, identified as Katie McCrary, can be seen in the video attempting to push the officer out of the way, according to DeKalb County Police. The officer stopped McCrary at the door and told her to step back. The two exchanged words and McCrary assaulted the officer, police said.
In their statement, police said McCrary continued to aggressively resist the officer’s command, resulting in the officer using a baton in an attempt to restrain and arrest her.
The officer can be seen on cellphone video repeatedly hitting McCray with a baton as McCrary lies on the floor kicking and seemingly blocking the blows.
In their statement, police said the department “was not aware of the cell phone video and did not have possession of the video” when they originally cleared the officer.
Officers eventually took McCray into custody, transported her to the DeKalb County Jail and later took her to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Police charged McCrary with obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers, and also served her with a criminal trespass warning.
The department said it is also looking into the initial investigation and the actions the officer's supervisors took.