BARSTOW — Barstow city officials said after reviewing a video of a police officer arresting a pregnant woman in January it was "apparent" that Charlena Michelle Cooks "actively resisted arrest."
The city issued its statement in response to the American Civil Liberties Union's release of the video last week.
"The Barstow Police Department continues to be proactive in training its officers to assess and handle interactions with emotionally charged individuals while conducting an investigation, for the protection of everyone involved," the statement read.
The ACLU released the video before reporting a settlement agreement with the city of Barstow that awarded two Northern California brothers $30,000 stemming their 2014 arrest. The brothers were arrested on suspicion of resisting or obstructing a peace officer or other public safety official after not providing their identification to Barstow officers at a local restaurant.
The agreement forces the Barstow Police Department to retrain officers on stop-and-identify laws.
Cooks was arrested after dropping her second-grade daughter off at Crestline Elementary School in January. She was eight months pregnant at the time.
Cooks claims she was involved in a "petty" altercation with a school employee and when police arrived the responding officer did not care to hear her side of the story.
"I don't even think that that disagreement in the parking lot was enough to warrant a call to the police," she said.
After the responding officer asked for her identification, she declined to provide it and made a call to her boyfriend asking if she was justified in not identifying herself. The incident was captured on the officer's body camera and he is seen grabbing Cook's arms, apparently forcing her to the ground and then struggling with another officer to handcuff her as she laid on her stomach.
"I don't think I've ever been that terrified in my life," Cooks said. "I never saw that coming. I told him I was pregnant so he could proceed with caution. That didn't happen and the first thing I thought was I didn't want to fall to the ground. I felt the pressure on my stomach from falling and I was calling for help. But those guys are supposed to help me. But who is supposed to help me when they are attacking me?"
Cooks was charged with resisting or obstructing a peace officer or other public safety official but later had the misdemeanor dismissed.
Barstow city officials also denied race played a role Cooks' arrest.
"This incident was in no way racially motivated, as implied by the ACLU," the city said. "Barstow is a racially diverse community, as is our Police Department, and we affirm our Police Department's commitment to protect and serve all of our residents."
Cooks said she is unsure if she will pursue legal action against the Police Department. She said her objective is to move out of Barstow.
Cooks said she does not feel safe in the city anymore.
"I'm still trying to process everything and get in a good state of mind," she said. "I'm in a very fearful state of mind. Barstow is so small and I used to be comfortable living here. Not anymore. I really felt like after all that happened I had some of my everyday freedoms taken from me."
Cooks said after her arrest she was banned from Crestline Elementary School.
"I received a letter saying I was a threat to the campus and employees." Cooks said. "I was pretty much told my children were welcomed there but I was not. I used to go have breakfast with my daughter on campus but that was taken from me for something that was not my fault."
But the school district lifted the ban earlier this month after the charge against Cooks was dismissed.
On Tuesday, Barstow Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Malan said he could not comment on the matter due to the confidentiality issues.
Since her arrest, Cooks gave birth to her daughter. She said her baby appears to be healthy but she is keeping a watchful eye on her newborn.
"She was a full-term baby born on March 30," Cooks said. "We don't exactly know if anything really happened to her during the incident so I'm just watching her development closely."