Maryland Police Officer Accused of Punching Handcuffed Woman's Face During Traffic Stop - NBC4 Washington

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Maryland Police Officer Accused of Punching Handcuffed Woman's Face During Traffic Stop

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    A traffic stop escalated to the point where a police officer punched a handcuffed woman in the face Tuesday evening. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports.

    (Published Friday, March 31, 2017)

    A traffic stop escalated to the point where a police officer punched a handcuffed woman in the face Tuesday evening. Police said the accused female officer acted in self-defense.

    “I didn't understand how a simple traffic stop could escalate into being punched in the face,” Carlett Johnson said.

    Cheverly Police pulled her over on Route 202 for driving without a front license plate, she said.

    Police learned her tags had been suspended because the tint on her windows was too dark, for which she had previously been ticketed.

    Matthew Mirabelli/AFP/Getty Images

    Police placed her on the curb and searched her vehicle before impounding it.

    She said she wanted to retrieve her phone to call her son who was at home alone.

    “They pushed me back, and at that point kind of grabbed me and started tussling and now at that point they said, ‘Well, now you’re under arrest.’”

    Police handcuffed her and put her in the front seat of a police car. The officer asked Johnson to turn her head to the left so she could buckle her seat belt, according to the police report. Johnson would not comply with her orders, the officer said.

    “When I turn back around I just saw her fist coming straight for my face,” Johnson said. “She had me dead in my eye, and I was shocked. I think I kind of blacked out for 10 seconds or so.”

    Police took her to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where she received stitches.

    The Cheverly Police Department is reviewing the incident and said preliminarily it appears the officer followed protocol.

    Police released a statement saying, in part, “it appears Ms. Johnson attempted to bite the officer, who was attempting to seat belt Ms. Johnson, prompting the officer to defend herself. … Officer safety is paramount, and being bitten has the potential of exposing officers not only to bodily harm but to serious, infectious disease…”

    Johnson denies trying to bite the officer.

    “If I did, in fact, try to bite you -- I didn't, I still didn’t – so what would constitute you punching me to the point of gashing my eye open?”

    Cheverly Police said they have body camera video of the incident but aren’t releasing it while it is under review.

    The accused officer started with the department earlier this month.