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'I'm humiliated from being beaten': Video shows chaotic scene as RPD officer confronts Richmond woman

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Alecia Nelson stopped by a Family Dollar on Monday afternoon to get some snacks for her daughter’s third-grade class at Westover Hills Elementary School.

She said she left the store in handcuffs with bruises, chest pain and other injuries after a confrontation with a Richmond police officer. A video taken by another customer in the store shows part of Nelson’s struggle with the officer, who can be seen leaning over her while she is screaming and saying she could not breathe and asking onlookers to call 911.

Nelson, 33, was charged with felony assault of a police officer.

The man who recorded the video said the officer assaulted him, but that he has not been allowed to press charges against the officer.

“I’m humiliated from being beaten and accused of something I didn’t do,” said Nelson, 33, in an interview outside the Family Dollar on Tuesday afternoon.

Richmond police released a two-sentence statement Tuesday saying that the department “has become aware of a video that is circulating on social media regarding an arrest” stemming from a report of a shoplifting in progress. “The department is investigating the incident and will provide a statement at the appropriate time.”

The police did not name the officer or provide any additional information.

Joshua Carter, 28, of South Richmond, used his phone to record video of the encounter between the officer, who is white, and Nelson, who is Black.

Carter said he used to work at the Family Dollar store, located on Westover Hills Boulevard near Forest Hill Avenue, and knows the supervisor who was working on Monday. While Carter was in the store, he said the supervisor told him that he had called the police because a customer told him that Nelson was shoplifting.

But Carter said he then saw Nelson paying a cashier for her items. Efforts to reach the store’s supervisor for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

In an interview on Tuesday, Carter gave the following account of what happened next:

The police officer arrived and he and the supervisor were staring at Nelson as she was at the cashier counter. She asked them why they were looking at her and started to leave, but the officer told her he wanted to speak to her.

She tried to walk past him and he grabbed her arm and bent her wrist behind her back, “like he was trying to snap it.”

Nelson and the officer ended up on the floor. Carter said the officer knocked Nelson into a “makeshift wall” and pushed her through a shelf of candy.

At some point, Carter said, the officer hit his head on a gumball machine and was bleeding. Carter said he had a registered firearm on his hip during the start of the altercation, but he went outside the store to give his gun to his wife, who was in a parked car. He wanted to go back in and record the struggle, but he said he was afraid the officer might pull a gun on Carter if he saw Carter was armed.

So Carter was recording as the officer was on the floor with Nelson. In Tuesday’s interview, Nelson said the officer had her right hand cuffed behind her back and was tightening the cuff on her wrist as he demanded that she give him her other hand.

Nelson explained in the interview that she did not give him her other hand because it was under her and he was leaning his weight on her.

Another customer picked up Nelson’s purse from the ground and was holding it for her, and at one point the officer went outside and snatched the purse from her and started going through it. Carter said the officer also shoved the woman who had been holding the purse.

Carter and Nelson both said Nelson had stolen nothing and that no merchandise was in the purse. No charges were placed against Nelson for stealing anything.

In the video, the officer repeatedly tells Carter to back up while he’s recording. In Tuesday’s interview, Carter said he had backed up to a wall and that the officer started chest-bumping him and pushed his chest with his hand.

While Carter was recording the ordeal, he was yelling at the officer and taunting him at times.

“I was loud and belligerent in the video because I was frustrated and scared at the same time,” he said Tuesday.

He also called 911 to report that an officer was beating up a woman in the store. Ultimately, a second officer arrived and then several others.

Carter told the other officers he wanted to press charges against the officer for assault.

“They told me I cannot press charges until Internal Affairs did their investigation,” he said.

“I’m traumatized and terrified,” Carter said. “They’re supposed to protect and serve, but it seems like the police are policing themselves.”

“If I make one mistake, it can cost me my life,” added Carter, who is Black. “But they can do whatever they want.”

He also said it was upsetting that the officer never tried to determine whether Nelson had stolen anything before he “went into attack mode.”

On Tuesday, Nelson showed a reporter and photographer the bruises on her wrist and her upper back, where she said the officer had pressed his knee into her. She said her head was still hurting a day later.

After her arrest, she said she was taken to Retreat Doctors’ Hospital, where she was treated before police took her to jail. Her boyfriend, Verdre Turner, bailed her out Monday night.

Carter said he hopes that his video, which he posted on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, prompts the police department to require more training for officers.

“They need to teach the police to deescalate,” he said. “I thought we were innocent until proven guilty.”

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