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West Memphis, Tennessee police detention

Source: West Memphis Police Department / West Memphis Police Department

A family has been left in outrage after their relative was roughly arrested by the police after walking in a motel parking lot and grieving the loss of her daughter.

According to Fox13, officers observed a woman named Shawnda Brookshire walking in the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn on Sunday, and they stopped her to make sure she was a guest at the motel. West Memphis police say officers had heightened surveillance of the location after a number of break-ins in the area.

Unfortunately, Brookshire had just lost her 4-year-old daughter in a car crash and she said she was walking around the parking lot to get some fresh air and to call people. According to video footage, when the officers approached Brookshire, she told them to turn their cameras on and the officers confirmed that they were indeed on. She then seems to be on the phone and is trying to reach her mom because she yells “pick up the fu**ing phone.” Brookshire tells the officers that she had just lost her 4-year-old daughter. One of the officers responds to this with “you’re about to go to jail for disorderly.”

The cops attempt to calm Brookshire down as they ask for her motel keys and identification, however, the situation eventually escalates with both sides yelling at each other. The cops then attempt to handcuff Brookshire and place her in the patrol car. The whole time Brookshire is screaming and the officers place her on the ground to try and handcuff her.

This is when Brookshire’s family comes outside and sees her on the ground. They yell at the officers and one of the cops pulls out his taser, telling them to stop. The group stops and the officer puts away his taser, then Brookshire is placed in the patrol car as the officers speak with the family members.

After talking with Brookshire and her family, the patrol lieutenant released her on the scene without charging her with anything.

You can watch one angle of the explicit video below and various perspectives here.

 

Natacha Brookshire, the grandmother of the now-deceased 4-year-old, Nia Brookshire, said she believes that her daughter experienced “racism in action.”

She explained:

“It wasn’t that they said ‘ma’am, we didn’t know who she was.’ I said, ‘why are you doing this?’ ‘You know what they said to me? ‘ ma’am, there’s been reports of carjackings here, and she was walking outside with her hoodie on. So I went towards them and I said ‘ a hoodie?’ Cause they were all white cops. Are we talking Trayvon Martin here.”

She continued:

“I knew what I was seeing. I understood exactly what was going on. I had no doubt in my mind what was going on. I understood I was living racism in action.”

Shawnda’s brother, Richard Brookshire, also expressed his outrage to WREG. “The West Memphis Police Department owes my family an apology, they owe my sister an apology, and they should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “We got the call from my sister and we ran down as quickly as we could, and I come outside and I see a cop with my sister handcuffed on the ground with his knee on her back, and I scream, ‘Her daughter just died.’”

 

Assistant Chief Robert Langston of the West Memphis Police Department argues that the officers were doing their job.

“They were on those hotel lots because hotel management is coming to use and saying we’re having an issue here. We’re having break-ins in our area. We’re having people travel through and want to make sure our property is safe,” Langston said, according to WREG. “I understand she was under a great deal of stress and I have never been in the situation that she’s in. I can’t speak for her. I can understand the stress that she was dealing with, and that the family was dealing with, but our officers don’t know that. They don’t know what the family is going through. We’re there to really to protect their property.”

The police department said that the officers didn’t violate any policy and will not face disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, the Brookshire family told FOX13 that they are weighing all options for legal recourse and they believe the police department should be trained in bereavement and distress de-escalation.

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