From [HERE] The city of Tacoma's total payout is now $1 million in the lawsuit filed by a teenage girl who was thrown to the ground by an off-duty Tacoma police officer working security at the Tacoma Mall.
The City Council on Tuesday approved paying that amount, which includes $550,000 for the jury verdict and a recently negotiated amount of $450,000 for attorney's fees and costs, to settle the matter.
Monique Tillman and her brother, Eric Branch, sued Officer Jared Williams and the city of Tacoma in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, alleging that Williams’ conduct while attempting to detain the two on May 24, 2014, in the mall parking lot was excessive. A jury found their claims to be true and awarded them $550,000.
Williams was moonlighting as a private security guard at the time. He was wearing his police uniform, driving his Tacoma police cruiser and had his gun and other police issued weapons and radio.
Tillman was 15 on May 24, 2014, when she and her brother, 16, dropped off clothes at a consignment shop, had a meal at McDonald’s and then headed home about 5 p.m., cutting through the Tacoma Mall parking lot near their house, said Vito de la Cruz, the plaintiffs’ attorney when the case was filed.
While Tillman was riding, Officer Jared Williams pulled his Tacoma Police Department-issued patrol vehicle behind the wheel of her bike, the lawsuit said.
Tillman turned around, asked Williams what was going on and why was “he trying to hit me with his car,” she said in an interview when the suit was filed in 2016.
She knew her rights and knew that police are required to have probable cause before detaining citizens, de la Cruz said.
In a video taken by a mall-surveillance camera that became critical evidence in the jury trial, Tillman can be seen talking to Williams and another security employee, while gesticulating with her arms and pointing.
Williams, who was working off-duty for mall security, told Tillman that she was causing a disturbance and was going to be “trespassed,” or banned, from the mall and could be arrested if she were to return, according to the suit.
As the officer appears to take a notebook from his chest pocket, Tillman can be seen in the video trying to pedal away.
The suit claims Williams then “erupted and began physically assaulting and brutalizing” Tillman.
The lawsuit says the officer tossed Tillman around “like a child’s doll, slamming her into parked vehicles, forcibly shoving his forearm into her chest, grabbing her by the hair and body-slamming her into the pavement.”
Once she was immobilized, the suit claims, Williams tased Tillman and arrested her.
She was charged in juvenile court with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer because Williams claimed Tillman had tried to kick him, de la Cruz said.
Tillman’s brother, who is a year older, was also arrested and cited for bicycling without a helmet, said de la Cruz.
The charges against Tillman and Branch — who are now 19 and 20, respectively — were dismissed by a judge who viewed the video and found no evidence that the officer was investigating a crime when Tillman was stopped or that she had assaulted Williams.
Tillman said in an earlier interview that she was shocked the first time she saw the video.
She believed she’d been treated poorly and unfairly because she is black, but had not known how jolting the video was.
“I was absolutely in shock, anger and disbelief,” Tillman said.
“I feel like I was targeted because I am a person of color,” she said. “It was frustrating because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong, but I couldn’t stop them.”
The suit was filed in the midst of the Black Lives Matter national movement and rising pressure on police departments to increase officer accountability for the use of force.
“You hear about this kind of thing happening across the nation,” Tillman said when the suit was filed, “but it is also happening right here.”
Williams remains an officer with the Tacoma Police Department, which maintains that Williams did nothing wrong and was acting within policy guidelines, Friedman said.
The city's attorneys negotiated with the plaintiff's attorneys and came up with $450,000 to settle the matter of costs. A city spokeswoman said the city won't be appealing the verdict. When the verdict was first announced, the city said its attorneys were reviewing the case before deciding whether to pursue an appeal.
The city's settlement does not involve the mall (Simon Property Group) or the security company (Universal Protection Services), who were also named as defendants.