City approves settlement for Black woman punched by officers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Officials in West Virginia’s capital city have approved a settlement for a special needs Black woman who was punched by officers during an arrest last year.

The Charleston City Council voted Monday to approve an $80,000 settlement for Freda Gilmore, the Gazette-Mail reported. Attorneys for the city and Gilmore agreed to the settlement last week.

The Oct. 14 arrest in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store as officers responded to a report of an altercation prompted a use-of-force investigation and led the city’s mayor to call for changes.

Charleston Police Officer Carlie McCoy had nearly restrained Gilmore and was attempting to handcuff her when Officer Joshua Mena arrived on the scene. Dashcam video from Mena’s cruiser shows him leaving his vehicle, kneeing Gilmore in the head and punching her with a closed fist four times in the head.

The lawsuit accused both officers of striking Gilmore while she was defenseless and on the ground. The lawsuit also said Gilmore has an unspecified mental disability and special needs.

Gilmore told the Gazette-Mail that she requested to go to the hospital for her injuries but the officers refused.

The officers were placed on administrative leave after the arrest and then reinstated when an internal review found they followed department policy. Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin responded by saying the department’s use-of-force policy should be updated.

Goodwin told council members Monday that her administration has been meeting with advocacy groups since the incident to address the policy, as well as other community issues related to systemic racism.

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