Several police officers from Wildwood, New Jersey have been put on administrative duty after a video was posted to Twitter showing them punching a woman in the head during an arrest on the beach. The video, posted May 26th on Twitter by Alexis Hewitt, shows officers punching 20-year-old Philadelphia native Emily Weinman in the head several times while arresting her for underage drinking.
‘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,’ read a post on the Facebook page of the City of Wildwood Police Department. The post also noted that Emily Weinman ‘was charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer (2 Counts), Aggravated Assault by Spitting Bodily Fluids at/on a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, Obstruction and Minor in Possession of Alcohol.’
Emily Weinman also wrote a Facebook post (which has since been deleted), detailing the incident. According to the Daily Mail UK, Weinman wrote that she was on the beach with her 18-month-old daughter, her daughter’s father, and a friend, when they were approached by two police officers on four-wheelers. ‘We got breathalized, and it came back negative. I told them I wasn’t drinking and the alcohol was clearly closed/sealed,’ Weinman originally wrote in her post. ‘They still stayed, the one cop following me when I walked away to go make a phone call after they did what they had to do, like okay, they did their job and I cooperated.’
Weinman then wrote that she asked the police officers ‘don’t they have something better to do as cops than to stop people for underage drinking on the beach?’ She claims it was this comment that led to her being written up. She then wrote that she did not want to give the officer her last name since she didn’t know what was being written down, states the Daily Mail UK. When the officer produced handcuffs, Weinman claims she ‘was backing up from [the officer] (facing him).’ Weinman then wrote that she tripped and fell, at which point the officer tackled her and ‘smashed [her] head into the sand.’ Weinman wrote, ‘Thats (sic) when he head locked me me (sic) 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].’
Wildwood Police Chief Robert Regalbuto found the video ‘alarming,’ according to the Facebook post from the Wildwood Police Department. However, the post also stated that ‘he does not want to rush to any judgment until having the final results of the investigation.’ Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. told Philly.com that the situation was ‘a shame,’ but noted that police bodycam footage shows Emily Weinman spitting at the officers and insulting them. ‘It wasn’t just that this officer decided to beat her up,’ Troiano said. While the mayor would not comment on the use of force, he did tell Philly.com, ‘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.’
Alexis Hewitt, who originally posted the video on Twitter, wrote, ‘I was sleeping on the beach and I woke up to this.. i can’t believe it..’ She also added in a later tweet, ‘Just putting it out there I’m only sharing what I saw happen directly in front of me. I am not anti-police I’m just sharing what I saw.’ Another Twitter user asked her what happened before the video, to which Alexis replied, ‘I spoke to the family after she was arrested. And they said that all that happened after she passed a breathalyzer test and she didn’t want to give her last name because they didn’t have a reason for it since she passed.’ In the video, Emily Weinman can be heard saying: ‘You’re not allowed to hit me like that …choke me like that …I didn’t do anything wrong.’ Meanwhile, another unidentified woman can be heard telling Weinman to ‘stop resisting.’
According to court documents obtained by Heavy.com from The Unified Judicial System Of Pennsylvania Web Portal, Emily Weinman was previously put on a four-year probation and fined $10,000 in Philadelphia for simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, both of which she pleaded guilty. Mayor Troiano said Tuesday, ‘She’s on probation for four years. She chose to attack the officer, spit on the officer. Look I don’t care who you are and what you are, the worst people [to try to subdue] are women,’ according to Philly.com. Weinman’s attorney, Stephen Dicht, called Troiano’s remarks ‘irresponsible.’ According to Philly.com, Weinman’s lawyer said, ‘The number of people who think she got what she deserved is appalling.’ In regards to the charge that Weinman had spit at the officers, Weinman told a reporter from Philly.com, ‘[T]he cops smashed my head into the ground when he tackled me and I spit the sand out of my mouth.’ According to a report from CBS New York, the officer in the video was wearing a Class II patch on his sleeve, meaning he is fully trained but only works during the summer season.