Mental Illness Is Not a Capital Crime
Two and a half decades after the 1991 beating of Rodney King was broadcast on TV, another bystander captured video of a different beating by the side of a Los Angeles freeway, featuring another Black grandmother. Marlene Pinnock, diagnosed as bipolar, had been homeless off and on for several years. She was walking along Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, headed to a location where she felt safe to sleep that was only accessible by freeway. A California Highway Patrol officer stopped her, eventually tackled and threw her to the ground, and proceeded to punch her in the head ten times as he straddled her body on the side of the freeway. Marlene later said, “He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me… I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death.” Adding insult to injury, during the assault Marlene’s skirt began to ride up. When she attempted to pull it down, the officer ripped her dress, displaying her naked buttocks to surrounding traffic. She was subsequently hospitalized for several weeks for injuries to her head, which left her with slurred speech, and experienced ongoing nightmares about the incident. The officer also claimed that Marlene was mentally unstable, causing the hospital to hold her longer, against her will, for observation.