DA drops Durham police assault case

Stephanie Nickerson claimed police brutality during a scuffle in Durham, but police said the woman was resisting arrest.
January 24, 2013 1:05:12 PM PST
The Durham County District Attorney's office has dropped all charges against Stephanie Nickerson.

The 25-year-old Navy veteran had faced resisting arrest and assaulting an officer charges in an October incident in which she claims an officer repeatedly punched her in the head and face - leaving her with a broken nose, a black eye and swollen lips.

Nickerson's case has drawn considerable community attention, and prompted multiple protests in front of the Durham Police Department. Supporters have called for the officer involved to be removed from duty and criminally charged.

The police department has said it is investigating the incident. Officer Brian Schnee is not charged, but has resigned from the department.

Nickerson told ABC11 in previous interviews that the incident began when police arrived at her friend's home early in the morning on Sunday Oct. 28 to investigate a report of a disturbance.

She said officers wanted to come in to search the property, but she told her friend that she didn't have to let officers in, and that's when things escalated.

"He was like put your arms behind your back, and I jerked my arm away and said no I haven't done anything wrong. And immediately after I jerked my arm back he threw me on the ground, he held me by my neck, and punched me repeatedly in my face and head," Nickerson said.

Some of the incident was captured on cell phone video. Although it is dark and blurry, friends of Nickerson are heard yelling for the officer to stop.

"He was hitting her with all his force. I could see him going all the way back, hitting her as hard as he could, and there was nothing I could do," eyewitness Tahveya Platt said.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said Thursday that even though Schnee has resigned, the department's investigation into the matter is ongoing.

"We anticipate having a final resolution to this case in the very near future. We appreciate the public's understanding as we bring this very thorough and comprehensive investigation to a close," said Lopez in a statement.

After learning the charges were dropped Thursday, Nickerson told ABC11 she's happy she fought the charges and stood up for herself.

"Happy, hopeful, glad I actually went through with it," she said.

Nickerson and her attorney would not say what their next move legally will be.

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