LAURENS, S.C. (WSPA) — Laurens Police are speaking out after a video of an arrest circulated on social media. In a statement Wednesday, the department called the video “misleading” and “out of context.”
The video was released shortly after a Laurens police officer was called to city hall Wednesday morning to arrest a woman who missed her court date and had a bench warrant.
Body camera footage shows the officer handcuff the woman and walk her to his patrol car. Her two daughters can be seen and heard speaking to the officer in the video.
“Why does she have to be arrested?” asked one daughter.
“Because she has a bench warrant,” responded the officer.
The officer closes the car door and gets into the driver’s seat. As he drives away, Laurens Police said the officer heard the backdoor open, immediately stopped the car and got out. Footage shows the woman’s daughter, identified as Chelsea Ortiz, opening the backdoor of the car. Police described it as “an attempt to assist the detainee to escape custody.”
The officer then pushes Ortiz away, and Ortiz can be seen throwing a cup of coffee at the officer.
The officer pushes Ortiz to the ground, handcuffs her and puts her in the patrol car.
Chief Keith Grounsell said his officer did what he was trained to do.
“They did what they call a palm heel strike,” said Grounsell. “What we’re taught at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy is you have an open palm, and you push it toward the chest area to create separation from you and the suspect.”
Laurens Police said the entire incident took place over 36 minutes.
Shortly after the arrest, a 43-second video of the incident circulated on Facebook. Grounsell showed that video to 7NEWS. It shows the officer push Ortiz to the ground but does not show what led up to that moment.
In response to the Facebook video, the department released a statement Wednesday as well as still images from the body camera footage.
“The depiction of what was shown in that video was not an accurate reflection of the totality of the circumstances,” said Grounsell. “We felt that there was an injustice being sent out and spread amongst the community spreading fear that law enforcement actually did something wrong in that case.”
“We always want the general public to know if there is an incident that’s in question, please come forward,” added Grounsell. “You can come to us in private. You can come to anybody on the road as well as our supervisors. You can file a written complainant, or you can contact me directly. We’ll be glad to look into any type of allegation and be as transparent as possible with the general public.”
Ortiz was charged with resisting arrest and hindering an officer serving a warrant. She was released on $45,000 bond.