A 17-year-old Black teen is seeking unspecified damages from a Washington officer, the private security firm he worked for and the Tacoma Mall after she was dragged by her hair two years ago.
For the first time, Monique Tillman saw video footage of her encounter with a Tacoma police officer. And it was staggering.
“I was absolutely in shock, anger and disbelief,” Tillman told the Seattle Times. “I feel like I was targeted because I am a person of color.”
The officer, who is white, pulled Tillman by her hair and threw her to the ground before shooting her with a Taser and arresting her.
“It was frustrating because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong, but I couldn’t stop them.”
Tillman was just 15 years old when Officer Jared Williams pulled his Tacoma Police Department-issued patrol vehicle behind the wheel of her bike on May 24, 2014. According to Tillman, she and her brother dropped off some clothes at a consignment shop, had a meal and then headed home about 5 p.m., cutting through the Tacoma Mall parking lot near their house.
When she noticed Williams, she turned around and asked him “why he was trying to hit me with his car.” Her attorney, Vito de la Cruz, said Tillman knew her rights and that police had to have probable cause before detaining citizens. Mall surveillance camera video shows Tillman talking to Williams and another security employee while using dramatic gestures.
Williams told Tillman she was causing a disturbance and was going to be “trespassed” or banned from the mall. He also said she would be arrested if she were to return, according to the suit. Tillman can be seen attempting to pedal away as Officer Williams appears to take a notebook from his chest pocket.
According to the suit, Williams then “erupted and began physically assaulting and brutalizing” Tillman. He tossed her 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,” the suit claims.
It also appears that Williams was holding Tillman by the throat against the vehicle for a time before he tased and arrested her. Tillman was charged in juvenile court with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. Williams claimed she tried to kick him, but the charges against Tillman were dismissed.
Tillman’s brother, who was 16 at the time, was also arrested and cited for bicycling without a helmet.
Tillman filed a lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court seeking unspecified damages.