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APD responds to viral encounter with woman during citation with bodycam video

Atlanta Police Department released footage to show the moments leading up to the now-viral interaction.

ATLANTA — Editor's note: 11Alive has cut portions of the officer's bodycam video to highlight the moments between the woman and police involved in the encounter. 

The Atlanta Police Department has released an officer's hour-long bodycam video after part of his encounter with a woman during a citation has gone viral over social media.

The man involved in the encounter with the woman recorded the portion of the video that went viral on social media. The now-viral video shows an APD officer wearing a face covering and gloves while seemingly arresting a woman who continues to question why he is trying to put handcuffs on her. 

In response to that video, APD showed their perspective and the officer's bodycam video related to the incident. 

APD released the following statement in part: 

The Atlanta Police Department (APD) is aware of video footage circulating on social media regarding an Atlanta Police Officer arresting a woman for being in a city park after hours. Upon learning of the incident, members of the APD’s Command Staff immediately began reviewing the incident to determine the facts surrounding the case. 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.  

The officer's bodycam video begins while he's driving and he pulls up to a blue Kia Forte. At the two-minute timestamp, the video's audio kicks in and one can hear the officer saying he's responding to a call. 

APD said the officer responded to Shady Valley Park in Buckhead around 11:50 p.m. on Monday. The park closed at 11 p.m.

The officer gets out of his patrol car and goes up to a man and a woman, who are already out of their car, video shows. 

In the officer's bodycam video, the officer is seen going up to the man and woman, then he explained to them that they aren't allowed to be inside a park in the City of Atlanta between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The officer is heard commenting that their car has an Ohio license plate, acknowledging that they appear to be out of town. 

The officer asks for their IDs, he takes both of them and gets back inside of his patrol car, video shows. 

When the officer rejoins them around the 18-minute mark of the bodycam video, he repeats to them that they can't be at the park at night. He tells them they're both going to receive a ticket and he asks them each to sign a separate citation. The officer tells them that if they don't sign the ticket, they will be arrested, bodycam video shows. 

"For most traffic law violations and city ordinance violations, officers are authorized to issue a copy of charges and release the individual once they have signed the ticket," APD said in a statement in part.   

Bodycam video shows that after the man looks over the ticket and signs, the woman repeatedly asks the officer for his name and badge number. 

"I don't have to sign this right?" the woman is heard asking on the video.

"You do have to sign it," the officer said.

She replied, "No, I don't."

The officer reiterated that if she doesn't sign, she "will be physically taken to jail." She replied, "Gotcha." The woman asks for the officer's name again, the video encounter shows.

Tensions between the officer and the woman begin to escalate when he asks another time for her to sign the citation. She told the officer no and that she wanted his name and badge number again. 

At the 20-minute timestamp of the bodycam video, the officer asked the woman to put her hands behind her back. The officer then grabs the woman's arm with both of his hands as he repeatedly tells her that she's under arrest, according to APD's footage.

The video shows the officer and the woman's physical altercation going on for several minutes. The woman is crying and screaming in the bodycam video. 

The video shows the woman eventually agreeing to sign the traffic citation. 

"I'm going to sign the ticket," she told the officer. 

"You don't have that option now," the officer replied. 

The officer tells her that she keeps resisting arrest and more officers arrive to help. The officers get the woman in a patrol car around the 27-minute mark of the video. 

The woman repeatedly asks the officers about them reading her rights in the video. The officers continue to discuss what happened, noting that the park's hours are posted. 

Atlanta Police officers have been instructed to increase patrols inside city parks due to safety concerns, APD said.

RELATED: 6-year-old critical, 2 dead, 3 others hurt in shooting at southwest Atlanta park, police say

In a statement, APD said it's addressing several issues regarding the woman's arrest:  

  •  An officer is not required to read someone their Miranda rights prior to arresting them.
  • The officer was wearing a mask and rubber gloves in an effort to keep himself safe from communicable viruses or diseases and was authorized to do so.
  • If an officer explains you will be taken to jail for something and you choose to push the officer to that limit, you will end up in jail.

"In the end, this incident began as an effort to address issues in our city parks. The officer clearly intended to issue a citation to each party and allow them to leave the park. Several unnecessary decisions, that were entirely out of our control, resulted in a physical altercation with an officer and the physical arrest of this individual," APD concluded in its statement. 

"There was no need to use the hands-on method there once she had agreed and once she really realized that she was potentially going to be arrested," Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs said. 

Griggs said his opinion didn't change after watching the police bodycam video. 

"We plan to meet with the chief of police. We plan to meet with a young lady and her attorney. We plan to get to the bottom of what actually happened," Griggs said. 

Crime and safety expert Mark Baughman has experience in law enforcement and thinks the blame goes both ways. 

"It's always good to comply with the police. I'm pretty sure that she knew she wasn't going to go to jail," Baughman said. 

However, Baughman believes the officer could have diffused the situation by allowing the woman to sign the ticket when she said she changed her mind. 

"You have to weigh what you're dealing with here. We're not talking about a felony violation. We're not even talking about a misdemeanor criminal violation. We're talking about a traffic infraction," he said. 

We asked 11Alive Legal Analyst Page Pate if people have to legally sign traffic citations. He said no and adds it only means you're acknowledging and receiving the ticket, not admitting guilt. 

Baughman added Georgia's statute says "may" instead of "should" when it comes to someone signing a traffic ticket so the policy is up to each police department's discretion. 

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