An elderly black woman was pulled out of her car during a routine traffic stop earlier this month, prompting questions and an investigation.
Police officer Michael Swerdlove pulled over Rose Campbell, 65, on May 4 for failing to maintain her lane, WSB-TV reports. Campbell reportedly refused to sign the ticket, viewing it as a sign of admitting guilt. The officer informed her that she was under arrest, ABC News reports, as Campbell demanded to speak to a supervisor. After Campbell refused to exit the vehicle, the officer attempted to forcibly remove her from the vehicle.
“All I felt was his whole body over me and I could feel the weight over me, grabbing at my belt,” Campbell told WSB-TV.
Once backup arrived, the situation got even uglier. James Legg, one of the assisting officers, began to yell and curse at Campbell, saying at one point, “You’re not in charge! Shut the f*ck up and get out of the car!” Legg later can be seen grabbing Campbell’s arm and forcefully yanking it behind her back. In the screenshot above, police lead Campbell, handcuffed, to a squad car, as she continues demanding to see a supervisor.
“Am I in a movie? Is this a movie? I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal,” Campbell told WSB-TV. “I didn’t expect that in America. I didn’t expect that in Atlanta. I didn’t expect that especially in Alpharetta.”
The Alpharetta Police Department commented on the incident via Facebook on Thursday, announcing that an Internal Affairs investigation was underway. The statement also explained that signing a ticket in Georgia is required, but condemned Legg’s behavior, writing that he “did not perform in a manner that is reflective of who we are as an organization” and called his language and tactics “inappropriate, even inflammatory.”
“We strive to be a transparent department. If we are going to be 100 percent transparent, that means that we also must be willing to share with you any major concerns that arise regarding employee performance and behavior,” Public Safety Chief John Robison said in the accompanying video. “There are aspects about this video that simply do not represent our organization.”
The department announced the following day that Legg, after being suspended, had tendered his resignation. In his letter, Legg justified his actions, claiming that he “did what was necessary to complete the arrest by raising my voice and using verbal commands using heavy control talk with profanity.”
Legg’s letter to Robinson continued, “I do not feel I will get a fair internal affairs investigation from you due to the comments you made on Facebook prior to interviewing any of the other officers, or even me. I feel my decisions ended a volatile situation quickly with very limited force and got everyone off the highway and back into service.”
The investigation will continue despite Legg’s resignation, the department explained.
“That resignation, however, does not alleviate our responsibility to Mrs. Campbell and the community for a complete and thorough investigation of this incident,” their statement read. “We want to assure everyone that our internal affairs investigation will continue and that appropriate actions, based on all of the facts, will be taken by the City.”
The city has requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conduct its own investigation as well, ABC News reports, in order to provide the public with “additional confidence that the incident has been thoroughly and appropriately addressed.”
While Campbell is currently unsure if she will be taking legal action against the department, she would like an apology from the city and department, WSB-TV reports.
(Photo: Screenshot via YouTube)