Cops 'dragged black librarian from car by her hair en route to aunt’s funeral'

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Newly released body camera footage captures the moment that police officers grabbed an elderly black woman by her hair and dragged her out of her car while she was on her way to her aunt’s funeral. Stephanie Bottom, 68, a librarian in Atlanta and grandmother of five, has filed a federal lawsuit over the May 2019 traffic stop in North Carolina.

The video released following Bottom’s suit last Wednesday shows her pleading repeatedly to police officers and sheriff’s deputies to tell her why they pulled her over on Interstate 85 as she drove to the funeral. First, Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy Mark Benfield is seen moving toward Bottom’s car holding his gun and then taking her by the hair and dragging her to the ground.

Then Benfield and Salisbury police officer Devin Barkalow have Bottom, then 66, face-down on the road and struggle to handcuff her.

‘Why are you doing this to me?’ says Bottom. ‘I was just driving. What have I done wrong?’

One of the officers responds that three police cars trailed her for ‘about 10 miles’ for allegedly driving 80 miles per hour in a 70-mph zone and ignoring the police sirens signaling her to stop.

Bottom tells the white officers that she did not know they were trying to get her to stop because she was playing music loudly inside her car. An officer then asks her if she had been drinking alcohol, which she denies.

‘I’m on my way to a funeral, my aunt’s funeral,’ Bottom says while sobbing. ‘I did nothing wrong.’

Bottom also informs the officers that she had a shoulder injury that makes being in handcuffs very painful and asks for them to be taken off. An officer does not listen to her and she was later transported to a hospital, according to the Charlotte Observer.

In her lawsuit against Benfield, Barkalow and another Salisbury officer, Bottom claims they used excessive force and tore her rotator cuff when they dragged her out of the vehicle.

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