Congressman Eleanor Norton has penned a letter addressed to the Secret Service about the detainments of two women by the federal law enforcement during protests in the wake of the brutal police killing of George Floyd.
India Johnson, 26, and Yasmeen Winston, 25, two residents of the District, were reportedly detained on July 30 near the World War II Monument on the National Mall during the racial justice demonstrations prompted by Floyd’s death.
A Secret Service vehicle hit a vehicle that the women were sitting in with their kids, before they were handcuffed, according to Norton.
“Such an incident must not be tolerated anywhere – but it will not be tolerated in our nation’s capital,” Norton said. “I am demanding answers to several specific questions, including why these mothers were arrested at all when it was apparent that their license plate did not match the one on the stolen car and why were they never read their Miranda rights.”
In her letter where she described the details of the incident, Norton asked the following questions, expecting a written response within five business days:
- Why did your officers think it appropriate to crash their cruiser into the car, even if they suspected it was stolen, when it appears that the women were not making any attempt to avoid a stop? Did they have their lights and sirens on or anything else to warn the occupants prior to the crash?
- Do your officers normally stop a car that your officers claimed matched a stolen car when the licenses do not match and the occupants of the vehicle do not match the description, or gender, of the suspects? How is probable cause or even reasonable suspicion alleged to have been met in that situation?
- Why did your officers not read the women their Miranda rights when it was obvious that they met the legal standard to be considered under arrest?
- Why were your officers not wearing masks in light of the global coronavirus pandemic?
- Why did your officers point their rifle at the head of one of the women, in front of children, when she had apparently made no effort to avoid arrest or in any other way posed a danger? Is it typical for your officers to draw a weapon on an individual who was pulled over just for having a car that might look similar to one that was stolen?
- Is there dashboard and body camera footage of the event, and if so, will you immediately release it to the public?
The Secret Service provided a statement to WUSA9, dismissing Norton’s description of the event as “misleading, and in some instances, false.”
According to the agency, its officers “were notified by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia that a License Plate Reader (LPR) system had identified a vehicle in the vicinity of the White House complex that was connected to criminal activity.”