The woman seen in a viral video being forcefully arrested on Monday (Aug. 8) by an Atlanta officer for not signing a citation now has an attorney, as police officials contend the cop did nothing wrong.
WGCL reports that civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt is representing Angel Guice in a case that has sparked outrage on social media. Merritt said Guice spent Monday night behind bars and is now recovering from mental and emotional trauma.
He told WGCL that the officer unnecessarily escalated the situation.
“The officer did in fact tell her to put her hands behind her back, but he never offered her an explanation for why she was arrested,” Merritt stated, adding that the cop’s “refusal to provide that explanation escalated the situation to one that was deeply agitated and completely unnecessary.”
The video clip of the arrest that circulated on social media is below.
In response to criticism over the arrest video, on Tuesday (Aug. 9), the Atlanta Police Department released the full footage of the officer’s body camera.
“It has become immediately clear there is more to this story than the short social media video shows and the decision has been made to release the Body Worn Camera footage from the arresting officer,” APD said in a statement with a link to the body-cam video.
According to the police, the officer was patrolling Shady Valley Park in Northeast, Atlanta shortly before midnight on Aug. 8 when he encountered Guice and a man together in the park after hours. The park closed at 11 p.m. Law enforcement had recently increased patrols after homicides at two other city parks. The officer attempted to issue Guice and the man a citation for the violation.
The man can be heard on the video asking if he has to sign the ticket, WSB reported. He is told that if he chooses not to sign the ticket, he’ll be arrested. Guice declined to sign her citation.
She asks for the officer’s name and badge number. He identifies himself as Officer Brooks and gives her his badge number twice. He tries to arrest her when she continues to refuse to sign the ticket.
APD said signing a ticket isn’t “an admission of guilt but acknowledgement of receipt of the citation” and the suspect's responsibility to appear in court.
“Refusing to sign a citation is considered reasonable cause to believe the individual will not appear in court or pay the fine and the officer may then physically arrest the individual so they can be brought before the court to post bond,” the APD’s statement said.
“My client, Ms. Guice, never refused to sign,” Merritt said. “She simply asked for additional information and the officer was very short and quickly escalated to the use of force.”
But police officials don’t see it that way. APD said the video shows that “the officer repeatedly asked the female to comply by placing her hands behind her back and the footage shows she refuses each time.”