Charleston City Council on Monday approved a settlement for a woman arrested by city police officers in October 2019, which prompted calls for a review of the department’s use-of-force policy.
Counsel for Freda Gilmore, 27, and the city agreed to an $80,000 settlement last week.
Charleston Police Officer Carlie McCoy had Gilmore nearly restrained on the concrete in the Family Dollar parking lot on the city’s West Side, attempting to handcuff her when Officer Joshua Mena arrived on the scene. The officers were responding to a reported altercation in the parking lot.
The dashcam video from Mena’s police cruiser showed him leaving his vehicle, charging at McCoy and Gilmore and kneeing Gilmore in the head before punching her with a closed fist four times in the head — all in a span of less than 10 seconds.
Gilmore, a Black woman, spent four days in South Central Regional Jail following the arrest. After she was detained, she was bleeding heavily down her face from where Mena kneed her.
She said her head was throbbing from both Mena’s and McCoy’s strikes. Her jaw, previously injured, ached. She requested to go to the hospital but the officers refused, Gilmore told the Gazette-Mail in January.
Charleston police cleared McCoy and Mena of any policy violations a week after Gilmore’s arrest.
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin called for changes to the city’s use-of-force policy that weekend on Facebook, saying while she respected former Chief Opie Smith’s decision not to discipline the officers, the “policy needs updated to reflect our community values.”
During the meeting Monday, council members asked what had been done to address the department’s use-of-force policy since the incident. Goodwin said her administration has been meeting with advocacy groups since the incident to address the policy, as well as other community issues related to systemic racism.
She said the city named a new police Chief Tyke Hunt in February, which Goodwin said delayed the process.
Also on Monday, council voted to take necessary steps to loan or donate the Kanawha Riflemen Memorial plaque at Ruffner Park to a West Virginia history museum. The bronze tablet was gifted to the city around 100 years ago and was removed last week.
The tablet lists the names of the 92 men who belonged to the unit, followed by the name of a “colored cook, faithful during the war.” It also carried a dedication honoring “those who served in the Confederate Army,” and was engraved with a Confederate shield.