Woman Claims Beating by Police During Louisiana DWI Arrest



A Shreveport woman is at the center of a police brutality case that is gaining attention from federal agencies. Last November Angela Garbarino was arrested for drunk driving in Louisiana and hit-and-run after crashing her car in a local casino parking garage and again on a nearby street.

While being booked for suspicion of DWI she refused to submit to a breath test. She repeatedly asked for the right to make a phone call and to have an attorney present. Garbarino attempted to leave the booking room purportedly to make a phone call. At that point Officer Wiley Willis handcuffed Garbarino and a video camera captured him shoving her into a wall, pushing her to the floor and forcibly placing her in a chair.

Willis then turned off the video camera and when the camera was turned back on, the images showed Garbarino lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Garbarino, 42, suffered two black eyes, a head gash, a fractured cheek bone, multiple bruises, a broken nose and lost two teeth. She claims Willis beat her, slammed her into a file cabinet and then threw her onto the floor as she cried for help.

Willis, 30, was dismissed from the police department in early February after an extensive internal investigation into the incident. The mayor of Shreveport, the district attorney’s office and the local police chief have all indicated that police brutality and policy violations will not be tolerated and the case is being reviewed further. Now the U.S. attorney’s office has said that the federal government will open its own investigation. Federal law permits the FBI and the U.S. attorney to become involved in cases of excessive force.

Willis contends that Garbarino fell and hurt herself. The Shreveport police union board supports Officer Willis, saying his firing is a smear campaign. They also question his guilt because no criminal cases have been filed. While Willis’ file contains four commendations it also includes at least two separate complaints of excessive force. In one case he allegedly held his service revolver to the head of a teenager while demanding that the parents back away.

The case has drawn significant attention since the police video tape was released and posted on the internet.

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