Trigger warning: This story details police violence against a teenage Black woman. There are links to videos of the physically violent arrest.
A recent video posted to Facebook showed the brutal arrest of a 18-year-old woman, identified by local news media as Genele Laird, outside of the East Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday, according to WKOW – 27 News. Now, the community and others who love her are demanding answers from local police authorities as to why she was forcefully and violently arrested.
In the candid video, a police officer is seen struggling with a young Black woman on the sidewalk at the mall’s entrance. Things quickly escalate when another officer approaches, knees the young woman in the side, grabs the girls wrists, and begins forcefully pushing her down to the concrete. After slamming her into the ground, he begins yelling at her to stop moving and struggling. When she doesn’t comply, the officer then punches her several times.
Things only get worse when he repeatedly uses his taser to subdue the young woman. She screams loudly in pain. As the original officer pushes her head into the ground, she can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe. So when I die, it’s on you. Get off. I can’t breathe.” Near the end of the video, a bag is placed over her head and she can no longer see her friends as she is still being pressed into the ground by several cops.
In a press conference, Police Chief Koval claimed that authorities were called to the East Towne Mall food court around the “supper hour” when mall security reported a young woman acting erratically and “out of control.” He said that people were “alarmed.” They say she was arguing with Taco Bell employees, claiming that her cell phone had been stolen, making threats to mall security and employees, and reportedly wielding a knife. He even said that she mentioned killing someone.
Chief Koval went on to explain that his officers are all trained in proper de-escalation techniques.
Laird’s friends and family organized a protest event on Tuesday night for the young woman, reports WKOW – 27 News. Her great-aunt Mallory shared, “She’s a loving person. She loves animals, she’s assistant manager for her store. She doesn’t have any record. What happened to her was unfair. She didn’t deserve this. No one deserves this, what happened to her.” People present were most concerned because they claim Laird has no criminal past, never been in trouble with police authorities and stays out of trouble overall. 27 News has confirmed that Laird has no criminal record to speak of.
As more information is released by police authorities, those present still seem concerned that such force was applied to a young woman who, they believe, was not a threat to police.
Chief Koval has met with the family, community leaders, and other concerned citizens following Laird’s arrest. Now, he has ordered an internal review of the arrest and all parties involved.
Photo: Screenshot WKOW/27 News video