FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- People are weighing in in response to the recently released body cam footage of police arresting and allegedly manhandling Ja'Lana Dunlap, a Fayetteville woman. Those critical of the authorities say the footage captures why there is fear and mistrust between the police and many Black residents.
"It's upsetting. It's very upsetting. The whole incident was unnecessary," said Shaun McMillan, an activist with Fayetteville PACT.
McMillan said he wasn't surprised by the way police questioned Ja'lana Dunlap in the body-cam footage. In the clips released Tuesday by Fayetteville police, officers are heard asking Dunlap to identify herself multiple times after stopping her in her car. But McMillan said he was surprised by how quickly it escalated. After Dunlap got out of the car, police put her against it and placed handcuffs on her.
"The police owe her an apology for trampling on her rights and for harming her unnecessarily," McMillan said.
Police say they had been looking for a violent suspect in the area when they found Dunlap parked in a lot. Police later released Dunlap when they discovered it wasn't her. Dunlap said she was there doing her job, taking pictures of litter on her boss's property. Dunlap's attorneys, Harry Daniels and Carnell Johnson, said their client did nothing wrong.
"This video is undeniable. Detective Bell and Officer Haddock weren't going to believe anything Ja'Lana Dunlap said. They didn't care that she hadn't done anything wrong and didn't pose any threat whatsoever. They brutalized her, they treated her like a criminal and when it was clear there was nothing to charge her with, they tried to invent something," the attorneys said in a statement. "That's not just the reality of this case. It's the worst fears of Black men and women across America come to life.
"Ms. Dunlap wasn't hyperventilating because she was concealing a crime," the statement continued. "She was doing it because she was terrified and, as the video shows, she had good reason to be."
Dunlap is suing the Fayetteville Police for civil rights violations and excessive force.
Fayetteville Police said Tuesday that the internal investigation prompted by Dunlap's complaint is still in progress.