Police Detain Grieving Black Mom Of Child Killed In Car Accident For Walking In Hotel Parking Lot

“She was walking outside with her hoodie on.”

A grieving mother stepped outside of her hotel for a moment to mourn the loss of her child, who was killed in a car accident. Shortly after, police detained her. 

Shawnda Brookshire was walking in the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn in West Memphis, Arkansas, when she was stopped by police patrolling the area, Fox 13 reports.

The police, who were patrolling the area after a number of reported break-ins, stopped Brookshire to confirm she was a guest at the hotel, Fox 13 reports. 

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Upon approaching her, Brookshire requested they turn their cameras on and police confirmed they were on and already recording, Fox 13 reports. 

Police said the woman began yelling at the officers when they asked her what her name was and requested to see her identification, which she said was in her hotel room, Fox 13 reports. 

According to police, Brookshire continued yelling at the officers while she called her mother to bring out her ID. The officers told her she wasn’t under arrest, but they wanted to confirm she was a guest at the hotel, Fox 13 reports. 

Her mother, Natacha Brookshire, told Fox 13 she thought her daughter was being attacked.

"Saturday I got a phone call and all I heard was my daughter screaming. I got so scared. I thought, ‘someone is attacking my daughter and I don't know where she's at.' That's when the accident happened," Natacha said. 

According to Fox 13, Brookshire reportedly continued to scream at the officers as they struggled to handcuff her until she was on the ground. 

As her family approached, they saw her on the ground and began yelling at the officers, one officer pulled out his Taser and told them to stop. 

When they did, he put the Taser away, and Brookshire was then placed in the patrol car, Fox 13 reports. 

A supervising officer arrived at the scene, and family members explained how Brookshire had lost her 4-year-old daughter, Nia, in a car accident and they were in town helping to make final arrangements to lay the little girl to rest, Fox 13 reports. 

The lieutenant released Brookshire from the patrol car and no charges were brought against her, Fox 13 reports. 

Brookshire’s brother, Richard Brookshire, posted about the incident on Twitter on Nov. 18, accusing the officers of putting “their knee on her back, before throwing her in a police car.”

Brookshire’s mother, Natacha, called the encounter “racism in action.” 

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"It wasn't that they said, ‘Ma'am, we didn't know who she was.' I said, ‘Why are you doing this?' ‘You know what they said to me? ‘Ma'am, there's been reports of carjackings here, and she was walking outside with her hoodie on.' So I went towards them and I said, ‘A hoodie?' Cause they were all white cops. Are we talking Trayvon Martin here," Natacha asked.

"I knew what I was seeing. I understood exactly what was going on. I had no doubt in my mind what was going on. I understood I was living racism in action," said Natacha.

West Memphis Police Assistant Chief Robert Langston explained what the officers were doing and told Fox 13, "They're there to protect the people traveling through and make sure their stuff's not getting stolen, at the request of the hotel, and they come across this woman and it's immediately confrontational."

He added, "Those officers dealing with it right at that time, they had no idea what was going on, they just knew they pulled up on someone, and she was immediately belligerent, so why? Why is she acting like this?" 

The Brookshire family is considering all options of legal recourse and believe the police department should undergo bereavement and distress de-escalation training, they told Fox 13. 

According to Fox 13, the police department issued a statement about the incident on their Facebook page.

“The West Memphis Police Department would like to express our condolences for this family’s loss. It is an extremely tragic situation and we understand the stress that this family is dealing with,” the statement said, Fox 13 reports. “Our officers were simply trying to patrol this parking lot, at the request of management, in an attempt to protect the property of people as they traveled through our area. This is an unfortunate event that could have easily been prevented.”

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