CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The attorney representing a Charleston woman arrested and beaten by city police officers in October 2019 says he and his client are satisfied with the recent settlement with the City of Charleston.
The Charleston City Council approved an $80,000 settlement to Freda Gilmore, 27, represented by Michael Cary at its meeting on Monday. The incident, that occurred in the parking lot of a Family Dollar on the West Side, prompted calls for a review and change of the department’s use-of-force policy.
The incident occurred on October 14 of last year where both dashcam video and video from a citizen showed Patrol Officer Carlie McCoy struggling to arrest Gilmore, a black woman, in front of the store on Virginia Street West.
Dashcam footage showed Patrolman Joshua Mena arriving on the scene, running to McCoy and Gilmore, kneeing Gilmore in the head before quickly punching her four times in the head with a closed fist. The officers were responding to a reported altercation in the parking lot.
“We hope that she (Freda) is the last victim of the City of Charleston Police Department,” Cary told MetroNews on Tuesday.
“At the same time, we are thankful that the city officials stepped up, took care of Freda and handled the situation professionally. We are moving forward.”
One week after the incident, Mena and McCoy returned to work from administrative leave after a use of force investigation. That prompted community outrage at the department, led by former CPD Chief Opie Smith.
In November, Smith referred the incident to the FBI for an independent investigation as groups called for the officers to be put back on suspension. Smith then told MetroNews his department was reviewing the use of force policy, which had not been updated since the 1980s. He said the officers’ actions fell under the policy.
During the city council meeting on Monday, members questioned what changes, if any, had been made to the department’s use-of-force policy. Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, who admitted in November the city and its police department needed to do better, said on Monday the city is working with advocacy groups to make changes.
James ‘Tyke’ Hunt was named as Charleston Police Chief by Goodwin in February. Goodwin said that is part of the reasons for a delay in policy changes.
Cary said he and Gilmore are confident changes will be made under the new administration.
“That is an amazing selection,” Cary said Tuesday of Hunt. “In my opinion, that tells me that Mayor Amy Goodwin is about making change. She is wanting to do the right thing because the new chief of police is amazing.”
Cary said his party would be willing to help the city with any changes to the police policies. He said nobody is anti-police.
“If they need our input or influence in making some changes, updating their policies and procedures, I am sure we would love to sit down with them and go over that,” he said.
“There are tons of amazing cops out there that go to work every day and they are getting painted in that bad light. I do not think they should be. But they also have a responsibility to call out their officers who are not living up to the standard.”
There was also a settlement between the party and Family Dollar over a security guard on the scene that Cary said attempted to block camera footage.
The money in the city settlement, which was agreed to on June 29, is being put in trust for Gilmore.
“She (Freda) was down but now she is back up,” Cary said. “She’s got the financial ability now to pick the pieces back up and move forward. It’s a great settlement for her.”