A mother grieving the death of her 4-year-old was handcuffed and placed into a police car by West Memphis police Sunday outside her hotel.
Shawnda Brookshire, whose daughter Nia died in an Interstate 40 wreck Saturday, was released without being arrested or charged, but a nearly 20-minute interaction with police escalated to her being handcuffed on the ground and an officer pulling a Taser.
“My entire family is shaken,” her brother, Richard Brookshire, wrote in a tweet. “This has been the most exhausting 48 hours of our lives.”
Richard Brookshire did not answer a request for further comment.
After 30 minutes of frantic back and forth and threatening to call attorneys, they finally let her go after nearly 30 minutes of holding her in the back of their vehicle. My entire family is shaken. This has been the most exhausting 48 hours of our lives. Shame on @westmemphispd— Richard Brookshire (@crtv_drctr) November 18, 2019
West Memphis police released a statement Monday but it was removed from the department's Facebook page by Tuesday morning.
The department did not respond to a request from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for comment.
A dashcam video outside the La Quinta Inn & Suites in West Memphis was released by police, but it provides mainly audio because the majority of the interaction happened outside of the camera’s view.
The audio begins partway through the conversation between the officers and Shawnda Brookshire, and most of the first few minutes show the officers asking her for information. She doesn’t answer police and calls her family to come down.
Shawnda Brookshire repeatedly tells the officers to go away as she and the officers exchange shouts over her attempts to call her family.
The police tell her to stop yelling, and she keeps calling for her mother and brother to come, saying the police are white and are going to arrest her. Shawnda Brookshire and her family are black.
About two and a half minutes into the interaction, Shawnda Brookshire starts to cry and scream, telling them to “stop” over and over.
“Get the f*** off me” she says. Surveillance video from the hotel shows her on the ground.
The click of handcuffs can be heard on the dashcam as she yells that she didn’t do anything. The officers tell her she is going to go to jail for disorderly conduct.
A little over a minute later, more voices are heard.
“Why is my sister on the ground?” a man shouts.
An officer tries to explain about reported break-ins and more shouting starts. One of the police officers tells them, “shut up or you’re going to jail” and “if you keep yelling you’re going to go to jail.”
While the family and officers continue talking over each other, Shawnda Brookshire is placed in the backseat of a cruiser.
Shouting and explanations from both sides continue for about another 10 minutes. During that time, additional cruisers and officers arrive, as shown on the surveillance footage.
Around that time, an officer can be heard summarizing the events of the interaction on the dash cam, and he says "I had to pull my Taser out on her brother." This interaction was not clearly visible in any of the videos.
Eventually an officer talks to Shawnda Brookshire while she is in the car.
“It’s been a horrible time, I understand that,” he says. “I think we can work this out.”
He takes off her handcuffs after she agrees to leave quietly with her aunt.
The police again ask for Shawnda Brookshire's ID after she is let out of handcuffs, and about two minutes later, the video ends.