The woman at the center of a controversy about excessive police force is speaking out for the first time since a video of her being hit by officers went viral on Wednesday.
In an interview with NBC LA, Julie Nelson recalled the Monday evening she had an altercation with sheriff's deputies before being hit in the face. She also admitted to getting into a verbal confrontation with people at the bus stop before boarding the bus. However, she swears that she didn't provoke anyone into a fight that night. "I didn't touch him though, because I know better than to touch people," said Nelson.
After being detained for a mental health evaluation, a homeless Nelson was released onto the streets. Several childhood friends have come forward to care for Nelson, and one told NBC LA that Nelson has "had some issues in life that have caused her to end up on the streets, and as you can see she has mental issues. She does need meds, but has been off them."
The video, which came to light on Wednesday, depicts two deputies restraining Nelson while one officer hits her hard in the face. Jermaine Green, the bus passenger who had filmed the entire encounter, told NBC LA that officers had threatened him with arrest for capturing the confrontation on his phone.
The video quickly went viral and drew sharp criticism for the violent force deputies used to subdue a woman with special needs. In an interview with KNX1070, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca admitted, "If the individual deputy who swung an elbow at the lady is looking at that as a sensible solution, we need to retrain that individual." Still, Baca balked at promising to discipline the deputy, noted the Los Angeles Times.