On May 28, a disturbing video of a woman being repeatedly punched in the head by a police officer on a beach went viral. As details began to emerge, it was learned that 20-year-old Emily Weinman went to a New Jersey beach with her 18-month-old daughter, the father of her daughter, and a friend. The viral video showed the culmination of her arrest, and body cam footage later released by New Jersey police showed that she had refused to give her name to officers.

Despite two videos, the story is still very much a she-said/police-said situation, but it seems fair to say the situation got unnecessarily violent, regardless of whether Emily was in the right or not to withhold her name from the officers. This morning, Emily and her lawyer appeared on Good Morning America to speak out for the first time about the situation and provide her version of events. 

Emily insists the officers did not tell her why they approached her in the first place, though she says the reason was “pretty obvious” since there was alcohol “in the open,” though she claims any bottles were sealed. She’s underage, but two breathalyzer tests came back negative. Still, the officers asked for her name, and the situation escalated when she refused to identify herself. She says something in her gut told her to not give them her name, and she had cooperated with them until that point so she felt she was in her rights to not provide her name. 

Emily is currently on probation for a 2016 arrest, but she says that did not have anything to do with why she did not want to identify herself to the police officers. 

Days after Emily’s arrest went viral, New Jersey police released body cam footage of the arrest, which showed a fuller picture of the events than the original video. Using that footage, police claim she was the one who first struck the officers, though the exact moment this would’ve happened is unclear in the body cam footage. 

The footage also shows her spitting at the police officers, though on Good Morning America Emily claimed this was just a misunderstanding: she wasn’t spitting at the police officers, she was simply empty her mouth of sand, since the officer had slammed her head to the sand. 

Emily’s lawyer says she was initially in custody for only 40 minutes and charged with misdemeanors. It was only after the video of her violent arrest went viral that she was slapped with the more serious charge of assaulting a police officer. 

“One situation doesn’t define someone,” Emily said. “I’m not a bad person, I’m not this person that they’re out here trying to make me seem like.” 

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