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Woman punched by New Jersey officer on the beach: "I'm not a criminal"

Woman punched by N.J. cop defends her actions
Woman punched by N.J. cop on the beach defends her actions 04:13

A New Jersey police officer will not face charges for punching a woman in the head during a controversial arrest caught on video. Widely-shared cellphone footage shows one officer pinning down 20-year-old Emily Weinman of Philadelphia, as another hits her several times.

"They think that because they are cops they can get away with it. And that's not the case. That's not right at all," Weinman told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, speaking publicly for the first time on TV about the incident.  

The Cape May County prosecutor's office said there is not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges against the officer. But Weinman faces several charges including assault.

Weinman does have a prior criminal history. She's currently on probation for misdemeanors in another jurisdiction. She admitted she's not perfect, but said her reaction in this case was only human.

"In my eyes, I'm not a criminal. I'm not a bad person," Weinman said.

Video shows officer punching woman in the head on New Jersey beach 00:34
Emily Weinman CBS News

Weinman said she stands by her actions Memorial Day weekend after Wildwood New Jersey police officers attempted to cite the 20-year-old for possessing alcohol at the beach. She said she wasn't drinking and the alcohol containers around her were sealed.

Weinman willingly took two breathalyzer tests. Both came back negative.

"I ask them, 'Do you guys have anything better to do?' There's so much stuff going on and you're trying to stop people for underage drinking and you see I didn't drink," Weinman said. "He was like, 'That's it. I was going to let you go, but now I'm going to write you up.'" 

She admits she had "a little attitude." 

"He hadn't told her that she had committed any crime. He hadn't told her 'I'm going to issue you a summons.' He hadn't told her any of those things. And then he says, 'Oh, you're about to get dropped,'" said Weinman's attorney, Stephen Dicht.

In the police bodycam video, Weinman told the officer, "Don't touch me."

"Alright, you're about to get dropped," the officer responded.

Moments later, the officer's body camera showed him on top of Weinman. He then appeared to hit her repeatedly. A bystander also caught the moment on their cell phone. The officer explained his use of force later on the bodycam.

"She tried kicking at us, so we slammed her on the ground," the officer said. "She kicked him. And then I just, I hit her a couple of times."

"The police are saying you resisted," Begnaud said. "So why not just stop and argue with them in court later?"

"It's impossible to answer that question, really," Dicht said.

"Why is it impossible?"

"Because it's all happening in the moment," Dicht said.

Weinman is also charged with spitting on the officer.

"I got sand in my mouth. So when they smashed my head into the ground, I had all this sand in my mouth… when they got me on my stomach, I turned around to go spit it out," Weinman said.

"Do you feel like you owe the officers an apology?" Begnaud asked.

"Honestly, no I don't," Weinman said, adding, "I'm very sorry that the situation happened, but I don't owe them an apology at all."

The Cape May prosecutor's office said their decision not to prosecute the officer is based on the "proper laws" and not "emotion." Following our interview with Weinman and her attorney, we reached out to the Wildwood police chief and the city's mayor for comment. We have not heard back.

Weinman is charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, spitting at an officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Weinman is due in court on June 15.

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