VIDEO GUIDANCE: There is no audio on the eye-witness video.
The video was filmed at John Street in Derry on Monday by members of the public across the street and was posted on social media networks, where it has sparked outrage.
The woman was lifted to the side of the road by the officers and is seen lying in the bus lane on John Street in the foetal position as the officers appear to drive off.
UTV reporter Mark McFadden viewed CCTV footage from premises nearby that showed what happened minutes before.
"That footage shows the woman involved in an incident with a man. The police were called and they arrested the man and placed him in the vehicle," he explained.
"The woman then ran up the middle of the road in John Street and tried to get into the police car. She then lies down on the road. At which point, police move her aside."
Having watched the video, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Police Ombudsman,
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton has told UTV that he accepts it "looks bad".
He said: "It is a cause for serious concern.
"This is a bad day for confidence in policing, but I want to reassure the community that we will be cooperating fully with the Police Ombudsman's investigation."
It is the job of the police to keep people safe and it would be very hard to try to explain how they were doing that by leaving a woman, who appears to be vulnerable, lying in a bus lane.
ACC George Hamilton, PSNI
ACC Hamilton added: "There was a build-up to this, 10 to 15 minutes prior to that video clip.
"But I'm going to allow that to be left to the Police Ombudsman to investigate the broader picture, before we come to any conclusions about whether or not that explains or justifies the actions of the police officers - which I accept looks bad."
He further stated that the officers have not been suspended at this stage due to protocols which need to be followed.
"They are entitled to give their explanation," ACC Hamilton explained.
"The Ombusdman will conduct a comprehensive investigation and then we will act on the recommendations from the Ombudsman. We would take a view from the Police Ombudsman's investigators about whether or not suspension would be appropriate."
The Police Ombudsman's Office has confirmed that the matter had been referred to them.
A statement added: "Dr Maguire has now initiated an independent investigation into the police handling of the investigation."
Sinn Féin councillor Elisha McCallion said: "It's one of the worst things I've seen of recent time in relation to the PSNI and how they behave with members of the public.
"There's a serious, serious lack of duty of care in relation to the individual ...
"She is certainly a very vulnerable young girl, who has been left at the side of the road where you wouldn't leave a dog, quite frankly, to fend for herself."
According to Ms McCallion, two men came to the woman's aid.
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said that he had been "horrified" by the video, adding: "I feel for the family of this girl.
"How can we believe that our young people are safe in our local community, when those who are charged with protecting them fall so far short of basic expectations?"
Anyone who saw what happened is asked to contact the Police Ombudsman Freephone Witness Appeal Line on 0800 032 7880.
Police Ombudsman's Office
An official statement from the PSNI said that the police would fully support the investigation by the Ombudsman's Office.
"The Police Service of Northern Ireland expects its staff to behave professionally, ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times," the statement said.
"Any conduct, whether on or off duty, which brings discredit on the Police Service will be investigated."
A Policing Board spokesperson added: "Whilst the circumstances surrounding this incident are not yet clear, video footage of the police response raises questions of the most serious nature.
"The Board and the public rightly expect the highest professional standards of all of our police officers and anything that falls short of that is simply unacceptable."