JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a deputy who was caught on camera dragging a Black woman by her hair and slamming her into the pavement.
At around 2 p.m. on Sept. 20, 34-year-old Shantel Arnold was attacked by three boys as she was walking down the street near her family’s home. The attack, which was captured on cellphone video, lasted several minutes. The boys slammed Arnold to the ground and beat her while a crowd watched and laughed. The assault ended when 71-year-old Lionel Gray, whom Arnold considers her stepfather, intervened and chased the boys away.
After the attack, Arnold stumbled down the road towards her home when an unidentified sheriff’s deputy pulled up beside her in his patrol car.
Arnold said the deputy demanded she stop and talk to him. She told him that she had just been assaulted and wanted to go home, and she continued walking. When she didn’t stop, the deputy got out of his car and attacked her, Arnold’s stepfather, Lionel Gray, told Nola.com.
The 14-second cellphone video of the attack shows Arnold, who is only 4-foot-8, about 100 pounds and missing her left eye from a car accident years earlier, being manhandled by the officer who towers over her.
The video begins with the unnamed sheriff’s deputy holding the wrist of Arnold, who is lying on her back on the sidewalk. The deputy appears to be dragging her along the pavement. The deputy then grabs Arnold’s arm with his other hand and jerks her upward, lifting her body off the ground. They briefly disappear behind a parked white vehicle. When they come back into view, the deputy is holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the cement. At one point, he whips her down so violently her body spins around and flips over, pulling several of her braids from her scalp.
After the attack, deputies on the scene called an ambulance, which took Arnold to a local hospital. Arnold told investigators with the Sheriff’s Office that it was not the boys but the deputy who caused her injuries, which included bruises and scratches across her body, a busted lip, and recurring headaches. The Sheriff’s Office did not file charges against her.
In the following days and weeks, Arnold’s sister Mercedes and multiple family members said, the same deputy has rolled by their house multiple times in what she believes to be an attempt to intimidate them. But she said she and her family are not afraid and will continue to speak up until the Sheriff’s Office holds its deputies accountable.
It is not known if Arnold plans to press charges against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office or the deputy involved in the encounter.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office remains one of the few large law enforcement agencies across the country that does not use body cameras. This week, however, the Sheriff’s Office announced that it had signed an $8.7 million contract for 500 body cameras that would be deployed by December.