(Photo: Screen Grab via WQAD 8)
The Davenport Police Department in Iowa is now under fire after surveillance video captured two city officers meting out a brutal battering to an area woman in front of her 14-month-old daughter after she was caught shoplifting at a local department store.
Brandie Redell owned up in a WQAD 8 report that in February, she stole clothes from the Von Maur department store in Northpark Mall and stuffed them in her daughter's stroller. But she had no explanation for the brutal pounding delivered to her by two Davenport officers after she was caught.
Nearly five minutes of soundless surveillance video (which some might find disturbing), from the store shows Redell sitting in a small holding room wiping what appears to be tears from her eyes while she is on the phone. Redell explained that she was trying to get her daughter's father to pick up their daughter before she is taken off to jail. She appears to make some verbal exchanges with the officers. A young woman appears to be engaging Redell's daughter at the side of the room next to a desk. At about the one-minute mark of the video, the officers charge at Redell and she is restrained and pounded several times in full view of her now distressed child who is quickly hustled from the room by an unidentified female while the cops continued their work.
"I was asking him why was this happening and I was crying. I was screaming, begging for someone to help me," Redell said in the WQAD 8 report.
She explained that during the call to her child's father, who is known to the police, one of the officers heard his name and told her: "This is going to get real ugly, real quick."
The officer she addresses in the video was identified as Scott Crow.
Police Chief Frank Donchez noted in the report that an internal investigation of the officers' actions found that they had violated policy and they had been disciplined, but he declined to say how. However, he said it did not warrant the officers losing their jobs.
"We have an Officers Bill of Rights. Progressive discipline is part of the Bill of Rights. I have fired 10 people in the past five-and-a-half years. I'm not opposed to firing people when it warrants it. One of the things is that officer was bit," Donchez noted. "I have access to all the facts, people watching TV and video don't have access to all the facts," he added.
Redell, who is working on a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Davenport Police Department says she bit the officer during the attack to get him off her.
County Attorney Mike Walton reportedly reviewed the video and didn't think any criminal charges were warranted.
Since the surveillance video was made public, however, many have disagreed with Walton's recommendations, forcing Donchez to publicly address the issue on the Davenport Police Department's Facebook page.
"Thank you for your comments. I understand your concern and want you to know that no law enforcement agency condones neither unwarranted nor unjustified use of force. However, due to limited public knowledge and information, I don't know how you can make judgment based on viewing a few seconds of video," wrote Donchez.
"I express regret for any unpleasantness and concern this may have caused you involving such a critical issue. Discipline is a complex process and by having all of the factual and realistic information, information not available to the public, my decision was made in the best interest of the community," he noted.
"I don't know how you can make judgment based on viewing a few seconds of video. When that few seconds shows an obvious beating, it's no longer judgement, it's fact," wrote Flynn Tastic Collier in response to Chief Donchez' reaction to the criticisms.
"What utter tripe, we don't have enough information? What more do we need? We have an officer who made a claim to justify his use of force which is contradicted by video evidence.. Are you saying we are too stupid to see that for ourselves? Honestly your statement damages public perception further," said Elliott Whitlow.
Editor's note: Warning, video contains graphic content.