A 36-year-old Baltimore woman claims she was tased by police and arrested while filming the arrest of a man with her mobile phone, according to a lawsuit to be served on the Baltimore City Police Department as early as Thursday.Video of the March 30 melee surfaced online this week. Police erased the 135-second recording from the woman's phone, but it was recovered from her cloud account, according to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City lawsuit (PDF), which seeks $7 million.
Kianga Mwamba was driving home from a family gathering in March. Stopped in traffic, she began filming the nearby arrest of a man who she says was kicked by police.
"You telling me I can't record," the woman says on the video as police tell her to move on.
"I'll park. I'll park. I'll park," the woman is heard saying in her own recording.
All of a sudden an officer says, "Out of the car. Out of the car."
She was yanked out. "He burning me. He burning me," the woman is heard screaming.
The lawsuit comes as at least one state, Illinois,moves to ban the recording of the police amid calls across the nation for cops to be equipped with body cameras to help prevent future police scuffles resulting in deaths. President Barack Obama has also weighed in on the issue, announcing last week that the administration would provide $75 million in funding to police departments to purchase body cameras. Even before Obama's announcement, local police departments were gobbling them up as fast as they could in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri death of Michael Brown.
Mwamba was arrested on charges of assault for allegedly trying to run over two officers. Charges were dropped, and she suffered cuts and bruises.
At the end of the tape, an officer says, "You a dumb bitch, you know that?"
"What did I do?" she asks.
"You just tried to run over an officer," the officer responds.
While in custody, she gave her phone to an officer to show the video that she didn't try to run over anybody. The video was allegedly erased from the phone in what her attorney, Joshua Insley, described in a telephone interview as a "coverup."
The police department said in a statement that the language the officer used was "both offensive and unacceptable."
"The video does not capture enough information to draw definitive conclusions about what transpired before, during, and after the arrest," the department said. "What is clear is that the language used is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
The suit, filed last week, said the police "attacked" the woman, "dragged" her from her vehicle, and "threw her onto the street, handcuffed her, tasered her, called her a 'dumb bitch,' and kept her restrained."