Police officers deny viciously assaulting Black trans woman, claiming she ‘slammed her own head onto the concrete’
Two police officers facing criminal charges for allegedly assaulting Brianna Hill, a Black transgender woman, have claimed that she “slammed her own head into the concrete” – despite there being video of the incident.
On May 24, 2019, police were called to a beauty store in Kansas City, Missouri.
In video taken by motorist Roderick Reed, who stopped to record the incident, Black trans woman Brianna Hill can be heard screaming in pain and asking for help while pinned to the ground outside the store by two white police officers.
The video, published by TMZ, shows the officers kneeling over Hill, who is barefoot, as she cries in pain on the pavement.
Early in the video, one of the police officers has his hands on the back of her head as it slams twice into the concrete pavement.
Hill cries “Please… oh my God,” and at one point another person comes into frame, apparently to see if she is OK, but is waved off by one of the police officers.
In the video, police officers audibly threaten to take Reed’s phone as evidence and threaten him with a ticket for filming them.
Despite the video, police officers Matthew Brummett, 37, and Charles Prichard, 47, maintain that Hill injured herself during the arrest and that they had not assaulted her.
Brianna Hill: Police officers charged with misdemeanour assault.
On Friday, the pair were charged with misdemeanour assault in a grand jury indictment.
Prosecutors said that what was described by Reed and seen in the video was “in contrast to the officers’ statements” of what happened.
The top prosecutor in Jackson County, Jean Peters Baker, said that the case has to go to a grand jury because the police department did not file a “probable cause statement” at the time of the incident, which would have triggered a regular prosecution.
“This case is particularly disappointing that my office was prevented from filing the charge independent of a Grand Jury,” Baker said in a statement.
Prosecutors say that the two police officers arrested her in the store, then took her outside and put her on the ground.
Hill was later hospitalised and charged with allegations of trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hill has since died, after being shot and killed in an unrelated incident in October 2019.
In 2019, at least 22 trans and gender non-conforming people were killed and 91 per cent of them were Black trans women, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT+ advocacy organisation that tracks anti-trans violence in the US.
Hill’s family speak out after assault charges announced.
Her family, speaking to local media after the grand jury indictment was announced, said: “We miss Brianna, we really do.”
Rena Childs, Hill’s aunt, said justice had not been served by the officers being charged with a misdemeanour.
“It should have been a felony. It should have been aggravated assault. You don’t treat a human being like that,” Childs said.
Brianna Hill's family + man who took video of the incident talks with us about their reaction to the misdemeanor assault charges against two KCPD officers.
They want justice and a tougher punishment for what they allegedly did to Hill.
— Nick Starling (@NickStarlingTV) May 16, 2020
Police chief Rick Smith previously said “there was no probable cause to conclude the officers broke the law”.
Lawyers for Brummett and Prichard released a statement through the police union in Kansas City: “They maintain that the force they used was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.
“They vehemently dispute the basis of these charges and believe they will be ultimately exonerated in court.”
And Brad Lemon, president of the police union, said that the woman slammed her own head into the ground.
“The department’s thorough and complete investigation immediately following the arrest definitely showed that the arrestee purposefully struck her head against the concrete and that the officer’s subsequent actions of controlling her head prevented the arrestee from doing additional harm to herself,” he said.
Brummett and Prichard are scheduled to appear in court in August. They face up to one year in jail.