Woman gets $250,000 settlement after being thrown to the ground, hogtied by police while pregnant
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Tamara Gaglione was recently paid $250,000 in damages for being pulled over for talking on her cellphone, after which she was thrown to the ground and hogtied by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers on the shoulder of a busy freeway.
This type of behavior, while indeed disgusting, is far from surprising given that police hogtying women isn’t all that rare and a woman died of suffocation last year in the back of a Los Angeles Police Department patrol car after being kicked in the genitals and forced into the vehicle.
In this case, it seems that the dashboard camera is what ultimately held the officers accountable, just as a similar camera did in the case of a 66-year-old man who was beaten for no apparent reason.
The incident occurred in August of 2011 and resulted in charges of evading and resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license, all of which were dropped after a judge saw video footage of the incident captured from a dashboard camera of a CHP cruiser.
30-year-old Gaglione, 2 months pregnant at the time, was pushed face-first into the asphalt after an officer swept her legs with a kick. Another officer used his knee to pin her to the ground, all while she was pregnant.
Howard Price, Gaglione’s attorney, told the Huffington Post that Gaglione could hear officers talking about the video of the encounter on the way to the station.
Yet when Price requested the video in order to present it as evidence in Gaglione’s criminal trial, he was told no footage of the incident existed.
“I went back to them, and I said, ‘Look, am I stupid? This involved a chase. There must be a videotape,’” Price said.
Eventually, the prosecutor finally handed over the footage from the dashboard camera of a backup officer, although that footage showed nothing.
Once Price was told the footage did, in fact, exist, he was told that no one could transfer the video to another medium.
Price was then forced to go to the CHP station himself in order to record the footage for posterity.
The video Price took of the original CHP footage being played was then uploaded to YouTube and can be seen below.
“The conduct here is outrageous. What these officers did here was bewildering to me. They knew she was pregnant,” Price told the Los Angeles Times. “She never resisted arrest.”
“After first stopping on the right shoulder, she was ordered to not stop there, to go forward and get off freeway [sic],” Price explains on his website. “Because of rush hour traffic noise, she did not hear clearly what she was directed to do.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the officers ordered her to toss her car keys out of her window, exit her vehicle and put her hands on the car.
Instead, Gaglione simply stands outside of her vehicle staring at the CHP officers, “appearing confused,” as the Los Angeles Times puts it.
When the officers are yelling, “Turn around,” it appears that Gaglione says something, although it is inaudible.
In the official report, the CHP officers claimed that she appeared to raise her arms in a menacing manner, although it is quite hard to detect if there are any menacing arm movements from the footage.
The officers then approach Gaglione with their guns drawn, sweep her legs with a kick and push her face-first into the ground.
Another officer pins Gaglione to the ground with a knee in her back, although Price contends that it was actually placed on her neck.
“At another point, it appears the woman is kicked in her left ribs,” the Los Angeles Times notes. “Eventually she is hogtied and placed in a squad car.”
“I’d never seen a gun for real before,” Gaglione said. “I just froze. I was scared they’d shoot me.”
While Gaglione maintains that she told the officers she was pregnant when they first approached her, one of the officers, Officer Daniel Hernandez, said that she did not mention that she was pregnant until she was on the ground.
In Hernandez’s report, he said that he kneed Gaglione in an effort to distract her so that Officer Roberto Martinez, his partner, could handcuff her.
The officers wrote in their report that the incident escalated because Gaglione ignored their orders and “appeared to raise her arms in an aggressive manner after hopping out of the van,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gaglione later sued both the CHP, the sergeant and five officers involved in the incident, “alleging that her civil rights had been violated and that she had been subjected to excessive force and malicious prosecution,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
While CHP officials would not discuss the incident itself, they said that both sides concluded that the $250,000 settlement was in everyone’s best interest.
“The CHP conducted a review of the tactics and, as necessary, took appropriate action,” stated Fran Clader, department spokeswoman.
Both of the officers involved in the incident with Gaglione remain CHP officers.
After the misdemeanor charges were dropped, Gaglione pleaded no contest to the infraction for using a cellphone while driving.
Gaglione is now the mother of a 9-month old son and moved to Pennsylvania from Los Angeles after the 2011 encounter, according to Price, who added that her son was not apparently affected by the incident.
“I will always be scared of police officers because of these knuckleheads,” Gaglione said.
Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a wider audience? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.