Two police officers in Kansas City, Mo., have been charged with assaulting a transgender woman while arresting her in May 2019.
The officers, Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard, were arresting Brianna Hill after she got into an argument at a beauty supply store, the Associated Press reports. Hill was murdered in October of last year, shot to death at a house in Kansas City.
Police were called to the beauty supply store by both Hill and the business’s owner May 24, 2019. The owner asked the officers to remove her, and they took her outside, where a passerby recorded a video of the arrest.
The video “shows the officers kneeing the woman in the face, torso and ribs and forcing her arms over her head while handcuffed,” the AP reports. They are also accused of slamming her face into the sidewalk. She “can be heard moaning and crying in pain” on the video, according to the news service. Hill was Black, and the officers are both white.
Brummett and Prichard said she was resisting arrest and that they used reasonable force. She was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
But a grand jury Friday indicted both officers on charges of fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. David Smith, a lawyer for Hill’s family, said he was “thrilled” the officers had been charged and was optimistic that the charges would be upgraded to a felony, local TV station KSHB reports. “That’s what these officers deserve,” he told the station.
To the AP, he added, “You don’t treat this woman like a piece of trash because you think she is a freak.” He also provided the media with a photo of Hill showing several bruises on her face, and he called on Police Chief Rick Smith (no relation) to resign.
Brummett and Prichard disputed the charges and said they believed they would be exonerated. The officers’ union, the Fraternal Order of Police, likewise said the charges are not justified and that Hill never filed a complaint or sought medical treatment.
The officers have been placed on what the police department called “administrative assignment” until the case is decided. They are scheduled to appear in court in August.
A suspect, whose name has not been released, has been arrested in connection with Hill’s death. She was one of more than 20 trans Americans to be murdered last year, almost all of them women of color.