A terrified grandmother is filing charges after being pepper-sprayed and dragged from her car by a police officer for attempting to deliver cupcakes to her grandchildren in school.
Mary Poole, 78, merely wanted to give the baked treats to her grandchildren while they were attending class at Kastner Intermediate School in Fresno, California. For several years, Poole was the legal guardian of her son’s two daughters, but a custody dispute between the girls’ parents left her unable to see the girls.
“I hadn’t seen my granddaughters for some time and I wanted to see them, and so I baked some cupcakes and bought some cookies for my granddaughters’ classroom,” Poole told reporters with a local ABC affiliate about last year’s incident.
A police officer from Clovis Unified School District approached Poole outside one of the classrooms, informing her of a restraining order that had been filed against her and she “had to leave” the school grounds.
Poole obeyed the officer and drove her car off the school campus, parking on the street in front of the school where she placed a telephone call her son to explain the situation. At this point, the officer reportedly became aggressive and eventually pepper-sprayed the 78-year-old, who is less than 5 feet tall (1.5m) and weighs about 110lbs (50kg).
“He wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, period. Every time I tried telling him anything…I mean, I was even telling him, ‘I’m 78 years old,’ before he grabbed me. He sprayed me with mace twice,” Poole said.
Poole said she was very frightened and told the officer to call the police, to which he responded, “I am the police.”
“He jerked me out of my car with my left arm with such great force, and then threw me on to the pavement. From there he dragged me by my left arm up to the school grounds,” she added.
Poole said she suffered more than $180,000 in medical bills as a result of her injuries, and has filed a lawsuit alleging police brutality and elderly abuse.
“The amount of force it took to inflict these injuries is testament to what happened that day,” Mark Coleman, Poole’s attorney, told an ABC affiliate.
Clovis Unified has not publicly commented on the lawsuit.
Such incidents of excessive force at the hands of US police officers are gaining greater attention. On Sunday, a YouTube video surfaced of a Fort Lauderdale police officer slapping a homeless man outside a bus terminal.
The police officer, Victor Ramirez, has been suspended with pay as investigators review the case.
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