LOS ANGELES -- When Tamara Gaglione was stopped on the side of a freeway for talking on her cellphone, she had no idea she'd end up hogtied and lying face down in the back of a police car.
But that's exactly what happened to the 30-year-old woman, 2 months pregnant at the time. When California Highway Patrol officers pulled her over to the side of the 110 highway Aug. 30, 2011, they slammed her to the ground, hogtied her and shoved her in the back of their patrol car.
On the way to the station, she could hear officers discussing video of the encounter candidly, said attorney Howard Price to The Huffington Post. But when Price requested the video as evidence for Gaglione's criminal trial, he was told there was no footage of the incident.
"I went back to them, and I said, 'Look, am I stupid? This involved a chase. There must be a videotape,'" said Price. Eventually the prosecutor handed over footage from a backup officer's camera, which showed nothing.
Finally, he was told the footage existed, but that no one could transfer the data to another medium -- so he had to go to the CHP station himself to view it. Price made sure to record the footage for himself, and he uploaded the shocking video to YouTube.
"What you see is a second generation of the original being played for me," Price explained to HuffPost.
WATCH: (warning, footage might be disturbing to some)
The 8-minute video begins with officers trying to apprehend Gaglione for talking on her cellphone. Gaglione weaves back and forth between lanes, trying to stop at one shoulder, then another, before finally settling on the right side of the highway. Price explains on his site, "After first stopping on the right shoulder, she was ordered to not stop there, to go forward and get off freeway [sic]. Because of rush hour traffic noise, she did not hear clearly what she was directed to do."
Once Gaglione stops her car, officers order her to get out and turn around. Gaglione appears not to comply with the final order, and instead stands still with her hands up. Then, at minute 3:52, two officers quickly approach her, slam her to the ground and proceed to handcuff her. Throughout, one officer appears to keep one knee on top of the upper part of her body (Price claims it was her neck). The officer also uses his other knee to kick her in the side at least once. Finally, four more officers arrive and surround Gaglione as her legs are tied.
The Los Angeles Times, who first reported on the case, note that one of the officers admitted in his report that Gaglione told him she was pregnant, but he insists it was only after she was on the ground. Price maintains that it was one of the first things out of Gaglione's mouth when she first got out of the car.
After the violent encounter, Gaglione was initially charged with misdemeanor evading and resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license, according to the Times. But once Price got a hold of the footage, the charges were eventually dropped and Gaglione instead pleaded "no contest" to an infraction -- using her cellphone while driving. The $20 fee for the infraction was also suspended.
Gaglione's criminal case was resolved March 12, 2012, the same month that Gaglione's son was born. In April, Price filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the CHP on Gaglione's behalf.
CHP quickly resolved the suit in August, and Price notes on his site that the damages were settled without "any depositions taken by either side" -- probably because the CHP knew that the video would be admitted into evidence, guessed Price. Gaglione received the check by Christmas time.
Now that the settlement check has been cut, Price is on a mission to make sure the CHP officers involved in Gaglione's case are appropriately disciplined. On behalf of Gaglione, Price filed an internal affairs complaint a few days ago against the men, who are still on the force.
"Yes, we want these officers to be investigated and hopefully disciplined," Price told HuffPost. "It's pretty outrageous conduct."
The Times notes that Gaglione is still traumatized by the violent incident.
"I will always be scared of police officers because of these knuckleheads," she said to the Times. Gaglione moved away from Los Angeles after the encounter, and now lives in Pennsylvania with her parents and infant son, Price said to HuffPost. The baby does not appear to be affected by the trauma Gaglione suffered, Price added.
CHP did not return a request for comment before this story's publish time. The entry will be updated if they respond.
UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol sent HuffPost this statement on Tamara Gaglione's settlement:
The parties agreed the settlement was the best way to conclude this matter.
The CHP conducted a review of the tactics and, as necessary, took appropriate action. By law, we cannot comment further on matters involving personnel issues.
A spokesperson for CHP also confirmed to HuffPost that the officers depicted in the video are still employed by the department.
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