In an indication of the agency's increasing concern over the videotaped altercation between an officer and an African-American woman on the 10 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow met Tuesday with civil rights leaders in Los Angeles.
"I believe that right now, we are somewhat wounded because of what people have seen," Farrow told reporters afterward outside the CHP's West L.A. office. "I was deeply concerned when I saw the videotape. I was shocked."
Farrow, who leads the CHP, said investigators are engaged in "fact-finding" right now and "in a matter of weeks" will determine whether to launch a criminal or administrative investigation into the officer. Investigators could also decide the officer did nothing wrong.
It's an incident that's caught national attention. Farrow refused to release the name of the officer, citing state laws protecting peace officers. The officer has been with the department for a year and a half.
Farrow asked people to "be patient" as the agency conducts its investigation. "Trust us," he said.
"We are fresh out of patience," said Caree Harper, attorney for the woman's family. "He beat her. He could have killed her."
The CHP officer is seen on video shot by passersby pulling Marlene Pinnock out of freeway traffic along the 10 Freeway near the La Brea exit after she wandered toward speeding cars. The African-American woman initially appears to resist. Later, the officer is seen on top of the woman, striking her with his fists more than 10 times.
"She has lumps on her head, face, shoulders and about her body," Harper said. She did not give further details on the extent of Pinnock's injuries.
The commissioner declined to talk about Pinnock's injuries.
Harper said Pinnock is being held in a mental health facility under a state law that allows authorities to detain someone who is a danger to themselves or others.
African-American leaders have called for a federal civil rights investigation into the incident. At one point Farrow invoked the most memorable of all police beatings, describing a meeting with his commanders earlier in the day.
"We are all very aware of the Rodney King incident," he said. "We couldn't remember seeing anything like this on our watch at the CHP."
This story has been updated.