NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Northampton is possibly facing a lawsuit following a traffic stop that took place in April.
22News received the dash cam video of a controversial traffic stop that took place in Northampton in April. According to Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, police pulled over a 60-year-old woman, for a broken headlight.
Police say the woman, Marisol Driouech, traveled about a quarter of a mile before pulling over and refusing to show her license and registration. The video shows police wrestling to get the woman out of the car. It also shows the woman with the police baton in her hand.
According to police, she was pepper sprayed when a backup officer arrived. Chief Kasper notes the officer’s actions were not spurred by the broken headlight.
Watch the dashboard camera footage of the traffic stop below. Some viewers may find the video disturbing:
“The violation at that point is the failure to turn over your license, which you have to do when you are stopped by an officer. If you are stopped, you must say who you are and provide your license and registration when requested,” said Chief Kasper.
The officers received no formal disciplinary action. However, the primary responding officer received additional training, especially around his communication.
“It’s a difficult video to watch. He should have really slowed down the pace of his communication and made sure that she was understanding what he was requesting. That could have impacted the outcome of this event,” said Chief Kasper.
The department used an outside entity to investigate the incident. The investigators concluded, “In light of all these factors, Officer Sellew and Officer Bartlerr’s actions and the amount of force they used, was reasonable and proportionate considering the totality of the circumstances they faced that evening.”
Driouech’s attorney, Dana Goldblatt, says the woman finds the video too difficult to watch and that she sought medical attention after the incident. Goldblatt said that English is not the woman’s first language and she was having trouble processing the officer’s words as they were being shouted at her.
“Whether you see her as someone who is just mean and uncooperative for no reason, or you see her as someone who doesn’t understand what’s happening and is asking for another officer for help, either what happens next is she gets grabbed, thrown to the ground and peppered sprayed in the face. And that’s where regardless of whether you think this is a case of someone who is needlessly uncooperative or a case of someone who is understandably confused, that’s where the police action is so wildly violent that I consider it unjustifiable morally and legally,” said Goldblatt.
Goldblatt says the woman, who is from Holyoke, was working for a food delivery service when she was pulled over. Goldblatt said she intends to send a presentment letter to the city of Northampton next week notifying them of the claim.
According to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, all criminal charges against Driouech were dismissed. She was fined for the motor vehicle violation.