WESTMINSTER, Colo. — The Westminster Police Department (WPD) said Tuesday it will not seek a felony charge against a woman who was arrested after a fight outside a Party City this weekend, and the department is launching an internal investigation into the arrest after a video surfaced on TikTok.
The video shows two Black women being arrested after a fight with a white man in the parking lot of a Party City store near 92nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.
> Editor's Note: This video contains strong language that some viewers may find offensive.
Charleene Gibson had stopped at the store for supplies for her birthday celebration that weekend. After asking a clerk if it was OK, she said, she parked her car close to the door.
That's when a man outside became upset her car was blocking a curb ramp, she said. Gibson said he yelled and tried to take a photo, and she stepped in front of his lens.
"Then he grabbed me, and he went like this and punched me in my jaw and then he yanked me again and then punched me two times right here, and that's when I started to punch him back," she said.
She said she had a thick jacket on, and the man grabbed her and ripped the jacket.
Then, police arrived and questioned all of the people involved. That's when Gibson's friend NiaShay Burns pulled out her phone and began recording.
Officers cuffed and detained Gibson and her sister as they pleaded that Gibson only hit the man after he hit her.
"He hit her first," one of the women says in the video.
"I understand that," an officer says. "We can go over this at f------ court, OK?"
The man involved wasn't in handcuffs.
Gibson was jailed on a charge of felony assault on an at-risk adult, a 74-year-old man. Her sister was released at the scene with a ticket for disorderly conduct. Burns was also ticketed for disorderly conduct.
The man accused of hitting Gibson was ticketed for misdemeanor third-degree assault and disorderly conduct. 9NEWS reached out to him but did not hear back.
Tuesday, after 9NEWS started asking questions about the video, the WPD called Gibson and told her they were downgrading her charge from felony assault to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Police said witnesses made conflicting statements that night, and after discussing with the DA, they decided to drop the felony.
"If I didn't have my phone and I didn't take it out in this situation, she would have gotten a felony charge," Burns said. "We would have had no help."
Westminster police said they've opened an internal affairs investigation into how the officers handled the call.
"I don't want to sugarcoat it, but I do -- like, that's what it is. It's because of the color of our skin," Gibson said. "It's the fact that we were upset, and we were expressing ourselves -- that I went to jail."
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