In a troubling cell phone video that has been circulating around the web for the past 24 hours, police in Springfield, Ill., can be seen wrestling down and tasering a pregnant woman.
Lucinda White, who is eight months pregnant, called police to Best Buy after having an accident dispute in the parking lot. White, 29, claimed another driver hit her car, but the driver denied it.
The video shows White trying to separate her boyfriend Frederic Thomas, 31, from one police officer when another officer rushes up to her and begins pulling her away from the vehicle. Police then continue to pull on her roughly and, while yelling, “I’m pregnant,” she is taken to the ground and tasered.
A passenger in another car in the parking lot shot the footage on his phone.
Police claim that White was “actively fighting” with an officer when reinforcements arrived at the scene. The police report indicates White was warned to stop cursing and yelling, and to stop resisting arrest.
White claims she never touched the officer. “I'm pulling on my daughter's father. I did not touch a police officer. I know not to touch a police officer,” White told KSDK.
“They told her get down on the ground face down, and she's trying to plead with them, ‘I can't get on the ground, I'm pregnant. I can't do that,’ and they told her once again. And she, she's just trying to plead with them, and then right away they hit her with the taser,” said witness Paul Newton, an employee at ABC NewsChannel 20.
HLN spoke with a leading obstetrician, who said blunt force trauma could hurt the fetus and that an electrical shock to the mother “can’t be a good idea.”
A spokesperson for the Springfield Police Department said their concern about tasering a pregnant woman pertains to the fear that she will fall and hurt herself or the baby, not because of the effect of electrical shock on the unborn child.
White and Thomas were both “drive stunned,” meaning the pain they felt from the taser was localized to the place where it touched their skin. White said she was touched on the thigh.
Both were arrested and taken to Sangamon County Jail. On Sunday night, Thomas was released on $350 bond and Thomas was released on no bond. They are both due in court in May.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston said the officers are not guilty of any wrongdoing. “It does not appear to be violations of department policy. The problem was caused by the fact that a police officer was attacked,” he said after a city council meeting on Tuesday.