US officer sued for beating black teen in mall parking lot
A family in the US state of Washington is suing a white police officer for brutally beating an African American teenage girl two years ago.
A shocking video has emerged from the May 2014 incident, which shows Tacoma Police officer Jared Williams turning violent after stopping then 15-year-old Monique Tillman and her elder brother.
They were riding their bikes home and used the Tacoma Mall parking lot as a shortcut, when they were confronted by Williams, who was off-duty working as mall security.
Williams pursued the teenagers and informed them that they were trespassing on mall property.
When Tillman tried to explain that she and her brother lived in the vicinity and routinely used the parking lot to get home, the officer became angry and charged at the girl.
Williams was caught on camera jerking Tillman off her bicycle, slamming her against a parked car and choking her. He then grabbed her hair and tossed her around.
The officer then pulled out his Taser and administered 50,000 volts of electricity on Tillman before arresting and charging her with resisting arrest and assault on an officer.
After viewing the surveillance video of the incident, however, all of the charges were dismissed by a city court.
“He was choking me, grabbed me by my hair and tried to slam my face into the concrete. The next thing I know, I’m on the ground being tased,” Tillman said.
Tillman’s attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from Officer Williams, the Simon Property Group who owns the Tacoma Mall and Universal Protection Services, the private security company in charge of the mall’s security.
“A child riding a bike should not have to worry that a police officer will stop her without legal cause and brutalize her,” said Vito de la Cruz, the attorney. “Our communities are weary of another African American child being hurt by unwarranted and excessive police force.”
The use of excessive force by law enforcement has become the focus of national debate, particularly over high-profile killings of African Americans by mainly white officers during the last several years.
Citizen and officer videos of arrests and killings have heightened scrutiny of police behavior.
Police in the United States killed over 1,150 people in 2015, with the largest police departments disproportionately killing at least 321 African Americans, according to data compiled by an activist group that runs the Mapping Police Violence project.