On April 28, Stephanie Bottom, a 68-year-old Black librarian, filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Police Department after White officers used excessive force during a traffic stop in May 2019.
Body camera footage revealed she was yanked out of her car by her hair and thrown to the ground.
According to CBS News, Bottom was driving from Georgia to North Carolina to attend her late aunt’s funeral when she got stopped by Salisbury cops for driving ten miles over the speed limit and refusing to pull over when she was stopped.
The older woman claimed that she was driving with her music blasting, so she couldn’t hear the police sirens behind her at the time.
She told CBS This Morning, “I was shocked. I was in fear. I was scared for my life. I didn’t know whether they were gonna shoot me.”
The footage allows one of the police officers involved to be heard saying that they were following her for ten miles before using spike strips to flatten her tires and stop her.
“Pretty exciting chase here,” one of the officers said in the footage. “I’m at the edge of my seat, baby.”
“What’s wrong with this f—— –tard,” he continued.
One of them told Bottom, “You put a lot of people in danger tonight, ma’am.”
“How,” Bottom asked. “… I didn’t know you guys was chasing after me. I was listening to my music.”
Ian Mance, the attorney representing Bottom, said that no threat was posed by Bottom at the time, and law enforcement knew it.
“They also pull up alongside her and talk amongst themselves that this is an older Black female,” Mance said. “She’s by herself. They later wrote an incident report where they said that when they pulled up alongside her, she held her hand up in a manner that suggested she was not sure what was going on.”
The police officers even went as far as to applaud each other for their dirty work.
“That’s good police work, baby,” one of the officers said.
One even bragged about dragging her by a “handful of dreads.”
“At that point, she earned it,” another cop added.
The librarian is suing the three officers involved in the incident who removed her from her vehicle, the sheriff of Rowan County, North Carolina, and the city of Salisbury for the use of excessive force. She also said that police tore her rotator cuff.
“My shoulder, I have a torn ligament in my shoulder,” Bottom said in the footage.
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When interviewed and asked what she’d say to those officers now, Bottom said, “You hurt me, you can’t hurt vulnerable people. You can’t force and brutalize innocent people. If I was guilty for not stopping right away or speeding, it did not call for what you did to me, and you need to be held responsible.”
Bottom pleaded guilty for failure of heeding to blue lights and was initially charged with speeding and resisting an officer, charges of which were later dismissed.