Police brutality or slip and fall?

February 19, 2008 8:16:22 AM PST
A Louisiana police officer was fired after a woman, who was pulled over on the suspicion of a DWI, ended up with two black eyes and bruises to her face while in police custody in November. What makes Angela Garbarino's injuries and situation more curious is the fact that Shreveport police Officer Wiley Willis turned off the interrogation-room camera after he and Garbarino exchanged words.

The video shows Garbarino requesting a phone call.

"You're not going to let me call anybody?" she asks on the video. "I have a right to call somebody right now and I know that. Is this on the record?"

The footage documents Wiley attempting to read Garbarino her rights, but he runs out of patience and things get tense. He seems to forcefully put her in a chair.

"Don't touch me again. Get away from me," Garbarino says after a scream.

Then, Wiley walks over to the police camera recording the booking and turns it off. What happens next is a mystery, but when the video resumes the handcuffed Garbarino is sprawled on the floor and silently lying in a pool of her blood.

Another officer arrives and takes a cursory look before Garbarino is wheeled out on a stretcher. In addition to her bruised face, Garbarino's injuries also included two broken teeth.

While Garbarino says Wiley physically abused her, his attorney said what he did was "in accordance with normal practice."

"The suspect again tried to leave the room. In the process of stopping her, she fell and injured herself," said Eron Brainard in a statement to ABC News.

Wiley is appealing his dismissal and police have not brought charges against him because no one knows for sure what occurred.

Meanwhile, Garbarino faces reckless driving, hit-and-run and DWI charges. She has denied the charges.

A Shreveport police spokesperson said no specific law about the phone call exists, but typically suspects are processed, booked and then allowed to make a phone call.

But at least one expert said at the very least Wiley should have called for a female backup.

"I think we have a situation where the arrested person is refusing to cooperate and the police officer apparently overreacted," said Tulane University forensic criminologist Wade S. Schindler.

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