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May 27, 2018

Viral video of Wildwood officer punching Philadelphia woman on the beach prompts investigation

Beachgoer arrested and charged in Saturday incident as officers placed on desk duty

Police Investgiation
wildwood cops punch Alexis Hewitt/Twitter

In frames taken from a video posted on Twitter by Alexis Hewitt, a Wildwood police officer is seen throwing a punch at the head of a Philadelphia woman on the beach.

A Philadelphia woman is facing charges after she was punched in the head by a police officer on the beach in Wildwood in an incident captured on video.

An Internal Affairs investigation is underway in Saturday afternoon's arrest of Emily Weinman, 20, of Philadelphia, on the East Schellinger Avenue beach, Wildwood police said. The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, Professional Standards Unit will assist in the investigation.

According to a department post on Facebook on Sunday, some officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to administrative duty pending the outcome of a full and thorough investigation.

Weinman was charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer (2 Counts), Aggravated Assault by Spitting Bodily Fluids at/on a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, Obstruction and Minor in Possession of Alcohol, according to police.

"Chief [Robert] Regalbuto stated that while he finds this video to be alarming, he does not want to rush to any judgement (sic) until having the final results of the investigation," the department wrote on Facebook.

The incident was captured on video posted to Facebook by Weinman and to Twitter by another woman on the beach (handle @HewittLexy) that went viral.

(WARNING: may contain sensitive material.)

Weinman's video was shared with a long description of her account of the events leading up to her arrest. She said she was approached by officers on the beach for underage drinking around 4 p.m. on Saturday. Weinman said she and her friend took breathalyzer tests, which came up negative.

According to her Facebook post, Weinman then asked the police, “[D]on’t they have something better to do as cops than to stop people for underage drinking on the beach,” which prompted the officer to write her up for a citation.

Weinman said she refused to give the officer her name for the citation. At some point, according to her account, she fell on the sand and was tackled by the officer. In the video, one officer is seen punching her head as a second officer attempts to hold her legs down. A third officer is present to keep the growing crowd away from the scene.

According to Wildwood officials, Weinman was drunk on the beach when she refused to tell the officer her name. Officials say she kicked the officer in the genitals and ran away.

According to police, the officer chased her and tried to subdue her.

Weinman's Facebook had 120,000 views on Facebook as of 2 p.m. Sunday. The video posted by @HewittLexy had 2.1 million views on Twitter by 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Wildwood police asked witnesses to the incident who have video to contact Det. Lt. Kenneth Gallagher at 609-522-0222.

The incident drew a range of responses as people responded to the Wildwood police post on Facebook on Sunday. Many supported the police officers' actions:

"Thank you Wildwood PD for your hard work and dedication in trying to make our town a better place for families," wrote Facebook poster Heather Hunter.

But another person on Facebook, Regina Golaszewski, disagreed, writing:

"I believe that it went entirely too far when the fist started being thrown!!! Pinning her to the ground was enough it didn’t need to become abusive!!! What the girl did was wrong but no one deserves to be punched by the opposite sex ever!!! Regardless if you have a badge or not!!! That is just my opinion not that it matters but the police do have a job to do!!!"