Frances Belisle is accusing police officers of using excessive force when they arrested her on March 25 during a public arts festival at a high school in Virginia (video below).
"You can still see the bruises on my wrists," Belisle told WTVR. "The excessive force, the bruising on my wrists, the bruising on my arm, the fact there was not even a minute between the initial encounter with the police officer and cuffs going on."
Belisle said the trouble began when she was walking her 9-year-old daughter to a classroom, but was stopped by a police officer who informed her that parents could not go any further.
"The police had set up a barricade in the hallway," Belisle recalled. "I said, 'You can't let 8 or 9-year-old kids go unsupervised down a hallway.'"
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According to Belisle, the officer let her walk to the classroom with her child and come back, but when she tried to intervene for an unidentified parent, authorities handcuffed her and took her into custody while her other child, who is 11-years-old, watched.
Belisle called the arrest "incredibly unprofessional" in a written account of the incident in a March 29 op-ed in the Mineral Daily News-Tribune:
The arrest was incredibly unprofessional. First, despite several inquiries, I was not told for what I was being arrested until I identified myself as an attorney. At that point I was told that I was being arrested for disorderly conduct in a public place.
I vaguely recall the statute and requested to know exactly what conduct the disorder was based upon as I used no violence, no threat, no profanity, nor did I make any gestures towards the officer or incite violence in any way.
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Both the officer and police Captain Mike Whittington refused to tell me what conduct the arrest was based upon. After the police placed the handcuffs on my wrists, I did not resist, I simply went limp.
The officers were untrained on how to carry a 125-pound limp person in custody so they simply dragged me. I have suffered bruises on my arms and wrists as a result of their lack of proper technique.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane told WTVR, "Evidently she had a problem with how it was structured."
An unidentified witness said Belisle used profanity and acted belligerently, which Belisle denied.
"She was very loud, very aggressive and belligerent to the officers," Keohane added. "They gave her several opportunities to leave the area and to calm down and that just didn't happen."
The police allowed Belisle to stay and watch her child perform, but she was hit with a summons for disorderly conduct.
Belisle and her husband, a retired cop who teaches criminal justice, have filed a complaint against the two arresting police officers.