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Woman Says Deputy Pulled Out Her Hair During Minor Traffic Stop for Brake Light

SAN DIEGO, CA — Shynita Phillips Abu filed a complaint against the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department after she says she was violently arrested by one of their deputies.

Abu alleges that deputy David Lovejoy pulled her over because her third brake light was not working. She says the deputy became enraged when she started recording him with her cell phone and he pulled her out of her car by her hair.

Abu took pictures of her injuries, showing hair that she alleges the deputy pulled out of her head and bruises on her arm that she said stemmed from the encounter.

“It was uncalled for, it was abuse of power, [and] it was racially [motivated],” Shynita Phillips Abu, who is Black, said during a news conference outside the department’s headquarters in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego.

“We are aware of the allegations and are looking into the matter,” Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ricardo Lopez said.

In a statement, Lopez said Abu refused to provide her driver’s license or identify herself to the deputy.

According to Lopez, deputy Lovejoy detained her on suspicion of resisting arrest and refusing to sign a citation.

The deputy tried to book her into Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee but ultimately released her from custody about six hours later. He dropped her off at a trolley station, she said.

Lopez said Abu was not jailed “because of COVID-19 booking restrictions.” However, a “certificate of release,” reviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, indicated that Abu was released because there were insufficient grounds for booking charges.

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Abu and San Diego civil rights leaders are demanding accountability for the deputy’s actions. They are asking that the police department release the body cam footage of the traffic stop and that Lovejoy be removed from patrol until the investigation is complete. They ultimately want the deputy fired for his actions.

“We are tired of excessive force and no accountability,” activist Tasha Williamson said. “We are not anti-police. We are anti-rogue officers.”

A department spokesperson said they are aware of the incident and are currently investigating. However, they say they are not releasing the body-camera video because it is part of the ongoing investigation.

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