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Woman Says Police Used Excessive Force at Airport
Surveillance Video Looks Routine at First, But Then Takes a Violent Turn

A woman waiting to pick up her mother at the airport in Atlanta says she was dragged from her car by an officer who used excessive force. A lawyer for the officer says he "did not do anything inappropriate."

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(Dec. 1) - She was dragged out of her car at an airport, slammed to the ground and handcuffed by a burly police officer in full view of a security camera, but Diana Dietrich-Barnes says there was absolutely no need for the officer to use such excessive force.

Dietrich-Barnes, 43, was at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Nov. 2, waiting to pick up her mother. After circling the airport several times she stopped to check her mother's itinerary. A few moments later, Officer Terence Alexander approached her sport utility vehicle and told her to move on.

In the airport surveillance video, her car then appears to briefly back up. Then a police officer opens her car door, yanks her out and throws her to the ground, where she is handcuffed. No fewer than seven police officers surround her.

Recounting the scene on "Good Morning America" Monday, Dietrich-Barnes said she was shocked when she saw the excessive use of force in the video.

"The whole time I'm laying on the ground, I'm upset, I'm yelling and screaming," she said. "I didn't want my mother to see me like that. It would have been a horrible experience for her to come out and see her daughter laying face down on the concrete with a police officer on top of her."

No Use of Excessive Force

A lawyer for Alexander disputes Dietrich-Barnes' charge that excessive force was used.

"Officer Alexander did not do anything inappropriate, he remained calm throughout the procedure and Ms. Barnes was belligerent, she refused arrest," said Lecora Bowen, Alexander's attorney.

On Monday, Dietrich-Barnes had her day in court. Clayton Circuit District Attorney Bob Keller and the judge agreed to drop the charges after viewing the surveillance video. "A failure to obey a command that was given like that is not one that I felt like rose to felony criminal violation proportions," said Keller.

Alexander, who says he was injured during the incident, is on paid leave while the police department investigates the incident.

'I Was Hollering for Help'

Dietrich-Barnes maintains that she was trying to comply with Alexander's orders to back up as there was a truck ahead of her, when he pulled her from her vehicle.

She also questioned police accounts that she injured Alexander with her mirror as she attempted to back up her car. "I have a brand-new Ford Explorer, and they have breakaway mirrors and my mirror was not touched at all," she said.

But most upsetting, she said, was the fact that she was characterized as being belligerent when all she was doing was screaming for help.

"I was hollering," she said. "I was hollering for help, for people to see what was happening to me. This kind of incident has happened at the airport before. So, I wanted people to see what was happening to me."

Meanwhile, Dietrich-Barnes' lawyer, Steven Lister, is considering taking further legal action. "We're examining that possibility," Lister told "Good Morning America." "I would say it's a very real possibility."

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