“Thanks for blocking the handicap zone,” documents say the man said as he attempted to take photographs of one of the woman’s license plate.
Charlene Gibson, the woman whose car was blocking the entrance, said that she had temporarily parked her car there to load items in her vehicle.
She went on to explain that as she exited her vehicle to stop the man from taking pictures of her car, he grabbed and punched her. She retaliated by punching him back.
Witnesses provide a different account. One bystander said that the women had cornered the man and began to assault him while another witness says the man punched Gibson, leading the other women to come to her aid.
Meanwhile, an acquaintance of Gibson, NiaShay Burns, began recording when police arrived and proceeded to arrest Gibson.
“As soon as police saw who else was involved, I automatically knew that it doesn’t matter if it was my fault or not,” said Gibson. “When police went in the store to talk to him, it was like they were talking to their equal. Like he didn’t just punch a female in the face. Meanwhile I’m getting arrested.”
The man was ticketed and charged with 3rd degree assault while two of the three women were charged with disorderly conduct. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Gibson, however, was charged with 3rd degree assault of an at-risk adult (an at-risk adult is a person who is 70 years or older, according to a Colorado statute), which is considered a felony. She was taken to jail.
“Just because I hit him back doesn’t mean that I should have got anything less than he or anything more than he did,” said Gibson. “This was self defense. He should’ve been arrested and handcuffed, too.”
Her charges were later dismissed and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct was filed instead.
“We want to bring awareness to this. We’re tired as Black women dealing with this. We’re supposed to be able to depend on police,” said Burns. “We’re tired of people telling us that we’re pulling the Black card, or that it’s always a Black or white issue. If we were white women, I guarantee this situation wouldn’t happen that way.”
All women involved have sought legal counsel.
The Westminster Police Department released a statement saying that it is “committed to providing quality police service to everyone. With respect to this incident, by policy, we have initiated an internal affairs investigation. This will include an examination of our policies, procedures and training. All information available will be reviewed by the complaint review team that consists of citizens and police command staff.”