Charleston Police Department policy needs to change after two police officers were cleared of violations of department policy when they used force to arrest a woman earlier this month, Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin said this weekend.
Goodwin said the department needs to make policy changes after two officers were cleared of any wrongdoing after an internal police investigation during their arrest of Freda Gilmore.
Goodwin posted her comments Saturday on Facebook, saying she has “been taking action and will continue.”
“I respect the decision of Chief [Opie] Smith that the actions of the officers were within current policy,” Goodwin said in the post. “But that policy needs updated to reflect our community values.”
A video of the officers arresting Gilmore on Oct. 14 was posted to Facebook, and investigators with the police department’s Professional Standards Division cleared Officers Carlie McCoy and Joshua Mena of any policy violation.
Public response to the video has led city officials to host a public forum at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5. A location for the forum had not been announced as of Monday evening.
When the police department released its findings into McCoy’s and Mena’s actions, Chief Smith said a policy review was among one of the actions the department was exploring in the wake of Gilmore’s arrest.
Goodwin and Smith are looking at policies from throughout the country to determine what works in other cities before implementing new policy in Charleston.
“Thereafter, we will immediately undertake training of our officers to implement the updated policy,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin previously said she would work to get more funding for body cameras for Charleston police officers.
“I promise you we will learn from this unfortunate situation,” Goodwin said in the post. “We are a strong community with citizens and leaders who are committed to making us better and improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and visits Charleston.”
Alisyn Proctor, 24, posted the video of Gilmore’s arrest to Facebook under the name Mollie Monroe on Oct. 14.
Proctor, of Charleston, was arrested at the scene and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, for screaming profanities at police and refusing to stop when officers asked her to stop, according to a criminal complaint.
Smith said Friday that Charleston police officers “do not arrest anyone merely for videotaping or video recording on their phone.”
The video depicts Gilmore, of Charleston, lying on the ground with McCoy in the process of putting her hands behind her back to be handcuffed. A second officer, identified in a police report as Mena, runs to where Gilmore and McCoy are and punches Gilmore four times in the head as another officer looks on.
Prior to the start of the video, McCoy struck Gilmore multiple times in her face, prior to Mena’s arrival on the scene, according to the incident report she filed. Mena also said in the report that he attempted a knee strike against Gilmore before he struck her face.
Gilmore was charged with a misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer and a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, according to criminal complaints filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
McCoy reported that she saw two individuals fighting in the parking lot of the Family Dollar, and she was flagged down by a person at the scene.
Once McCoy pulled into the parking lot, the fight had ended, she said, and she attempted to talk to a woman, whom she later identified as Freda Gilmore.
Gilmore refused to take her hands out of her pockets and attempted to walk backward and away from McCoy, McCoy said in the report.
McCoy took Gilmore to the ground, where she said Gilmore rolled around and refused to give McCoy her hands, which is about the point where the video begins.
After they took Gilmore into custody, Mena said, he found a small, dead puppy in Gilmore’s pocket. Mena said a Charleston humane officer who responded to the scene determined that the puppy had been dead before the incident, with McCoy saying it appeared the puppy had parvo.
Gilmore was released from the South Central Regional Jail on Oct. 19, and she was receiving medical treatment last week, Michael Cary, an attorney for her parents, said.
Gilmore’s father, Richard, and stepmother, Kim, said Freda Gilmore has special needs, and they intended to pursue legal action against the city of Charleston.