Emily Weinman was enjoying a day out at the beach with her young daughter in New Jersey when police confronted her on suspicion of underage drinking and violently restrained her, punching her in the head several times.
Video of Weinman’s arrest has since gone viral, with one tweet by Twitter user Alexis Hewitt, who witnessed the incident, receiving more than 40,000 retweets and more than 4,000 responses. Weinman also posted video of the incident to her Facebook page, but the post has since been removed or made private.
The 20-year-old Philadelphia woman says she, her daughter’s father, and a friend were at the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey on Saturday for Memorial Day weekend. She said she brought alcohol with her even though she was underage. According to The New York Post and NJ.com, which first reported story, Weinman wrote in the original Facebook post that she “was questioned and passed a breath-test administered by the cops,” and was walking away to make a phone call when she asked them “don’t they have something better to do[?]”
It was at that point, the young mother claimed, that one of the Wildwood Police officers told her, “I was gonna let you go but now I’ll write you up.” Weinman refused to give the officer her name and said she began backing away “cautiously,” but “tripped and fell,” after which “the cop tackled me to the ground and smashed my head into the sand” in front of her 18-month-old child.
“At that point I blacked out and fought any way possible trying to get up and push him off me,” she wrote.
I was sleeping on the beach and I woke up to this.. i can’t believe it.. pic.twitter.com/UJE5Sy7E4G
— Lexy (@HewittLexy) May 26, 2018
In the video, the Wildwood officers can be seen wrestling Weinman to the ground as someone yells “stop resisting.” A child can be heard crying in the background. One officer is then seen punching Weinman in the head several times before pulling her into what appears to be a chokehold with his right arm crooked around her neck.
“You’re not allowed to hit me like that!” Weinman can be heard yelling, as officers place her in handcuffs. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Police have since claimed they have body camera footage of Weinman spitting on the officers and insulting them prior to the arrest.
“It wasn’t just that this officer decided to beat her up, that wasn’t the case,” Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We don’t like to see anyone get hit, period. But then again, when you have someone who’s aggressively attacking you or spitting at you… I wasn’t there. I don’t know.”
According to BuzzFeed, Weinman was arrested and later charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault by spitting bodily fluids at/on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction, and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
Responding to the footage on Monday, Wildwood Police Chief Robert Regalbuto stated that “while he finds this video to be alarming, he does not want to rush to any judgement until having the final results of the investigation.”
“An Internal Affairs Investigation was immediately initiated into this matter and the involved officers have been reassigned to administrative duty pending the outcome of a full and thorough investigation,” the police department wrote on Facebook.
The incident is the latest in a recent line of questionable interactions between police and civilians. One high profile case involved NBA rookie Sterling Brown, who was tackled by officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in January and shocked with a Taser for “being an ass.” Body camera footage of that incident was released last week, proving that, although Brown appeared frustrated at being randomly confronted by police as he exited a store to walk to his car, he never made a move toward the officers or exhibited threatening behavior, as they had claimed.
In Weinman’s case, the mother of one admitted she could have given the officers her name immediately to avoid further interaction, but maintained police had no right to treat her as they did.
“[…] He head locked me…by his arm around my neck, punched on me in my head and then he head locked me again but this time choking me, I was gasping for [air],” she wrote on Facebook. “Yes, i know I should’ve gave him my name.. I was partly wrong in a way but I was scared.”
The Wildwood Police Department has since placed the officers involved in the incident on leave, while it investigates what happened. The Professional Standards Unit of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office is collaborating with the department in that internal review. Police have asked that anyone with additional video footage of the incident come forward to assist with the investigation.