Officer punches woman in New Jersey beach arrest video

Officer punches woman in New Jersey beach arrest video
KYW, HewittLexy/Twitter via CNN

A Pennsylvania woman’s visit to the New Jersey Shore on Memorial Day weekend ended in handcuffs after an encounter with police turned violent.

A video posted to social media Saturday — and since viewed more than 3.6 million times — shows three Wildwood police officers on the beach, attempting to detain a woman later identified in a police statement as Emily Weinman, 20, of Philadelphia.

As the video begins, Weinman is on the ground with one officer on top of her. She kicks at another, knocking aside a beach chair. The first officer then proceeds to hit her in the head twice with his fist, before grabbing her by the shoulders and pinning her to the ground.

As the second officer holds her legs steady, a third approaches to control the gathering crowd. The first two officers then attempt to handcuff Weinman.

A child can be heard crying in the background. Someone is heard repeatedly saying, “Stop resisting.”

“You’re not allowed to hit me and choke me like that,” Weinman shouts. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The video shows the altercation already underway, with no indication of how it began. It ends before police have clearly detained Weinman. New body camera footage released Wednesday by the Wildwood Police Department shows what happened before Weinman’s arrest.

Body camera footage released

Police released three body camera footage videos of the incident. The department said in a news release that the incident is “still under investigation,” but it wanted to release the footage to ensure “transparency with the public.”

The first two videos show the interaction between Weinman and the officers before her arrest. In the first video, the officer asks Weinman who the unopened containers of alcohol belong to. Weinman responds, “They’re my aunt’s,” and says that her aunt, who is not visible in the video, is on her way back. The officer then makes Weinman and her friend take a Breathalyzer test. After the test, Weinman walks away on the phone, and the officer says, “Go grab her real quick, and we’re gonna have them pour that all out.”

Weinman argues with the officers in the second video, saying she is allowed to carry alcohol, and it is not illegal because the containers are not open. The conversation gets heated. Weinman repeatedly refuses to give the officer her last name, and the officer says, “OK, that’s it, I’m done with you,” and moves toward her. Weinman walks away yelling, “Don’t f***ing touch me.” With two hands facing forward toward the officer, she shoves him before the second video ends abruptly.

The third video shows the altercation as the officer attempts to put handcuffs on Weinman. This footage is similar to the initial video shared on social media.

An internal investigation has been launched into the officers’ conduct, according to a statement issued Sunday by the Wildwood Police Department. In the meantime, the officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to administrative duty.

“It’s unfortunate all the way around,” said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. “They [police officers] were on the beach most of the day writing tickets to underage drinkers with no problems. … She escalated it to where it went.”

Weinman charged

Weinman was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault by spitting at a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction and with being a minor in possession of alcohol, according to a statement from the Wildwood Police Department.

“You had a situation which was really a non-event,” said Stephen Dicht, Weinman’s attorney. “She passed a Breathalyzer, she wasn’t drinking, and you know, they just wouldn’t let it go. … They are trained to defuse situations, not make them worse.”

Weinman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a Facebook post written over the weekend, and since taken down, Weinman said she had unopened alcohol with her when she was stopped by police while visiting the beach with her daughter, her daughter’s father, and a friend. Weinman said she passed the Breathalyzer test police administered after asking for her age.

According to the post, an officer followed her after the encounter. “I asked them don’t they have something better to do as cops than to stop people for underage drinking on the beach,” she wrote. “The cop said, ‘I was gonna let you go but now I’ll write you up.’ “

The officer asked Weinman for her name, which she refused to give, according to the post. She said the officer then informed her he was arresting her. “I tripped and fell and the cop tackled me to the ground and smashed my head into the sand,” she wrote. “At that point I blacked out and fought any way possible trying to get up and push him off me.”

“Yes, I know I should’ve gave him my name,” she continued. “I was partly wrong in a way but I was scared.”