Rochester, NY — On December 19, 2014, 32-year-old Jennifer Merrow was in a car accident. After failing the field sobriety test, police brought her to the Monroe County Jail where she would be attacked by police and subsequently charged and convicted for it.
In court documents, obtained by the Free Thought Project, prosecutors would claim that Merrow “assaulted a Monroe County Jail Deputy, ripping her hair out and spraining the Deputy’s neck.”
On November 16, 2015, after the conviction, Senior District Attorney Christine K. Callanan would go so far as to use Merrow’s case to illustrate the dangers police face on the job every day.
“Jennifer Merrow’s behavior on December 19, 2014 demonstrates her complete disregard for the safety of this community. This case is a reminder of the real dangers faced by Police Officers and Jail Deputies on a daily basis. The defendant’s conduct on the roadways and in the
jail shows her lack of respect for others and their safety,” said Callanan, according to the documents. “Merrow will now be held accountable for her actions.”
While it is true Merrow rear-ended a car at a red light, implying she was a danger to police officers is nothing short of callous disregard for reality as newly released surveillance footage will show.
In the footage, released by Merrow’s attorney during a civil lawsuit against the jail, we see that she was the victim of an assault and most assuredly not the perpetrator of one.
During the video, we see Merrow acting entirely compliant. While there is no sound, she appears to be doing everything the deputies ask of her.
Toward the end of the video, Merrow is seen struggling to put on her jacket when she is suddenly attacked by Monroe County Jail Deputy Raelle Ashley.
As Ashely rushes her, Merrow’s leg comes up as a reflex to protect herself and it grazed the leg of her attacker. Police would use this one tiny move as the lynchpin of their case. “The video shows her kicking a deputy. It’s straightforward. You use the amount of force necessary,” the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement to Rochester first.
“The use of force is objectively unreasonable,” Anjan Ganguly, Merrow’s attorney told Davy Vera in an interview, who added, “It doesn’t pass the common sense test, let alone any precise legal test. She had no aggressive stance toward anyone. It couldn’t be more clear.”
According to Ganguly, there are more videos the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released. He says they will be demanding those during the civil trial, but can’t comment on what’s in them yet.
Merrow is suing the Monroe County, NY Sheriff’s Office, including Deputies Raellen Ashley and Timothy Romach.