A woman who was allegedly arrested under false charges in 2015 is now suing the officers she claims assaulted her and threw her in jail.
OyZhana Williams, 23, has filed an excessive force lawsuit against Aurora, Colorado, officers Jordan Odneal and Jose Ortiz, as well as Police Sgt. Michal Hawkins, claiming officials made up a false charge against her in December 2015, The Denver Channel reports.
The suit, which was filed in federal court, asserts the woman was choked and that officers slammed her against the pavement prior to the wrongful arrest.
Williams had taken her boyfriend, Blake Newton, to the hospital after he was shot on Dec. 22. At the hospital's emergency room, the victim met the officers, who had been ordered to investigate the shooting. As they told her that her car had to be towed so it could be searched, she was cooperative. But once Hawkins demanded she “give him the keys to the car,” she said felt pressured.
According to the suit, the police didn't have any right to seize her keys since they were not considered evidence.
As they talked, Hawkins would “[point] his finger in Ms. Williams’ face,” the suit claims, being aggressive toward her. Because of the growing tension, Williams finally dropped the keys on the ground, prompting Hawkins to grab her and pull her out of the back of the police car.
In the video of the ordeal captured by the hospital's surveillance camera, you can see Hawkins forcing Williams to bend backward over the police car trunk. According to the suit, he choked her with his forearm, and then later “stomped on” her as she laid on the pavement.
At the police department, Williams was then charged with assaulting a peace officer.
Still, the suit alleges, officers misled prosecutors by adding false information to the probable cause affidavit. As a result, she was wrongfully detained for several days, forcing her to miss Christmas. Worse yet, the suit claims, she also lost her jobs as a result of this arrest.
The charges were eventually dropped for unknown reasons.
After the suit was filed, the Aurora Police placed Hawkins on desk duty, but the other two officers remain on active duty. The agency also claimed that it's taking the claims made by Williams seriously.
But despite these heinous allegations, officers involved remain on patrol while Hawkins, who's seen in the footage physically assaulting Williams, remains employed.
Too many similar cases go unreported and largely unnoticed by the justice system. If Williams can get the justice owed to her, then perhaps more people will begin pressuring police departments nationwide to be held accountable for their actions.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Patrick T. Fallon