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Delaware police investigating alleged officer assault of woman during traffic stop

Written by on July 10, 2024

New Castle County Police Department

(NEW YORK) — A Delaware woman who was allegedly assaulted by New Castle County police during a traffic stop on June 29 gave her first public comments Tuesday about the stop and her arrest.

Bystander and police body camera video show N’Finitee Coleman being detained by four officers in a parking lot where she was stopped by police.

“My hair was pulled up and down,” Coleman said during Tuesday’s press conference. “My head was punched by a male and by a female. I have constant migraines.”

In police body camera footage, released by the New Castle County Police Department, an officer can be seen stepping out of his vehicle after he pulls Coleman over. He approaches Coleman’s car and asks her to step out of the vehicle.

The officer tells Coleman she was being arrested for multiple unsafe lane changes, not using a turn signal, and because her registration was suspended for no insurance.

“An officer with the New Castle County Division of Police was traveling in the area of Walther Road and Pulaski Highway when he observed a car commit several traffic violations,” New Castle County Police said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “The officer was also able to confirm that the car’s registration was suspended without insurance and observed an old bullet hole in the driver’s side door that had police evidence markings on it. The officer activated his emergency lights behind the car at Pulaski Highway and Wellington Drive to initiate a traffic stop. However, the car continued down Pulaski Highway, making the right turn onto Brookmont Drive. The car then continued to the Royal Farms parking lot before backing into a parking space.”

The body cam video shows Coleman refusing the officer’s instructions to exit the car and asking for his supervisor. The officer then pulls her car door open. The two of them argue for a few minutes, with Coleman continuing to refuse to comply with instructions to exit her vehicle, until other officers arrive on the scene.

Three male officers can then be seen on body cam video pulling Coleman out of her car and forcing her to the ground. A female officer is then seen arriving on the scene as the other three policemen struggle with Coleman on the ground. The female officer proceeds to punch Coleman in the head area multiple times. One of the male officers is also seen throwing punches in body camera video as he claims that Coleman is holding his foot.

Coleman was eventually handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle. In addition to traffic violations, she was charged with two counts of offensive touching of law enforcement, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of disorderly conduct, according to New Castle County police.

Emeka Igwe, Coleman’s lawyer, said at Tuesday’s press conference that his client had legitimate registration for her car at the time of the incident.

“I do think there is a perception out there that when an officer approaches someone who may have an attitude or may be mouthy that they can then do whatever, whether retaliate with force or assault,” Igwe said. “That’s not OK. As an officer, you’re trained to be a professional. You’re going to encounter people with mental health challenges.”

Coleman claimed at the press conference that she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and her anxiety and PTSD were contributing reasons for her “verbally aggressive” behavior during the traffic stop.

“The New Castle County Division of Police Professional Standards Unit is conducting an administrative investigation to determine whether the officer’s actions were within policy,” the New Castle County Police Department said in a statement. “Additionally, the Division’s Use of Force Review Unit is conducting a use-of-force analysis, including a detailed video examination. Finally, the incident was referred to the Delaware Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. These investigations and reviews are still ongoing.”

The Delaware Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust or the New Castle County attorney’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News requests for comment. The New Castle County Police Department declined to comment when ABC News asked if any of the officers involved with Coleman’s arrest have been disciplined.

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