Woman in NJ Memorial Day melee pleads guilty to disorderly conduct
A woman whose violent arrest by New Jersey officers last Memorial Day weekend was captured in a video that went viral will serve probation under a plea deal and stay off local beaches for a year, her lawyer said.
The video shows Emily Weinman, then 20, being pinned down and grappling with Wildwood, New Jersey, officers, who’d stopped her for having unopened alcohol containers on the beach. It was viewed more than 3.6 million times on social media.
The melee raised questions about the officers’ conduct, as well as Weinman’s culpability. She initially was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, plus resisting arrest and being a minor with alcohol, Wildwood police said at the time.
Weinman pleaded guilty Friday in Cape May County to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to one year of probation.
“We thought it was a very fair deal,” Weinman’s attorney, Stephen Dicht, told CNN, adding that the plea agreement shows that the assault charges “didn’t have any merit.”
The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Judge Bernard DeLury said during Friday’s appearance that Weinman should stay away from Cape May County beaches, including Wildwood, during her probation, Dicht said.
“The last person she wants to have contact with is the Wildwood police,” he said.
Police video shows how encounter began
Video of the May altercation shows two Wildwood officers trying to pin Weinman down as she kicks, then one of those officers hitting her twice in the head with his fist. A child can be heard crying in the background. Someone is heard repeatedly saying, “Stop resisting.”
“You’re not allowed to hit me and choke me like that,” Weinman shouts. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Police later released body-camera footage of the incident that detailed how it began. An officer asks Weinman about the unopened containers of alcohol and asks her to take a Breathalyzer test, the video shows.
Weinman repeatedly refuses to give the officer her last name, and the officer says, “OK, that’s it, I’m done with you,” and moves toward her. Weinman walks away yelling, “Don’t f***ing touch me.” With two hands facing forward toward the officer, she shoves him before the recording video ends.
In a Facebook post that was quickly deleted, Weinman at the time said she had passed a Breathalyzer test. “I tripped and fell and the cop tackled me to the ground and smashed my head into the sand,” she wrote. “At that point I blacked out and fought any way possible trying to get up and push him off me.”
“Yes, I know I should’ve gave him my name,” she continued. “I was partly wrong in a way but I was scared.”
The prosecutor cleared cops’ actions
The officers were cleared in June of possible criminal charges, Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said in a statement. “The actions of the arresting officer(s) did not meet the evidentiary standards to warrant criminal charges … or any other related criminal statutes,” he said, citing the findings of a preliminary investigation.