Captured on surveillance video attacking a 15-year-old girl on a bicycle and deploying his Taser against her for no justifiable reason, an off-duty police officer was initially named in a lawsuit accusing him of civil rights violations. After defending the overzealous officer’s actions, the Tacoma Police Department was recently named in the newly expanded suit for failing to reprimand an officer caught using excessive force.
On May 24, 2014, Monique Tillman, 15, and her brother, Eric Branch, 16, were leaving a fast food restaurant and began riding their bicycles through the Tacoma Mall parking lot in Washington. Working for mall security, off-duty Officer Jared Williams pulled up behind Tillman with his lights and air horn activated.
In the video, Tillman can be seen asking Williams why she was being stopped. Although Williams reportedly claimed they were causing a disturbance and trespassing, the video simply shows two teenagers riding their bicycles through a parking lot.
As another security guard arrives, Williams pulls out a pad of paper and appears to be issuing them a ticket when Tillman begins to ride away. Grabbing the girl’s arm and forcing her off the bike, Williams slams Tillman against the side of an SUV and threatens her brother.
While Branch complies with his orders and sits on the ground, Williams grips his sister by the hair and throws her to the pavement before firing his Taser at her. The 15-year-old girl never once fought back against the aggressive officer.
Charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and obstruction, Tillman and her brother were arrested and detained at a juvenile facility. A judge later dismissed the charges.
In May, Tillman filed a lawsuit against Williams, the private security firm that he worked for, Universal Protection Services, and the owner of the mall, Simon Property Group. The lawsuit expanded last week to include the Tacoma Police Department after the department defended his actions and failed to discipline Williams’ use of excessive force.
“Given that Officer Williams’ conduct was committed under color of law as a police officer for the Tacoma Police Department, the Plaintiffs have alleged federal and state civil rights violations in their amended complaint,” wrote Tillman’s attorney, Vito de la Cruz, in a statement. “At the core of the complaint is the excessive force used and illegal arrest made by Tacoma Police Officer Williams and others against Ms. Tillman and her brother Eric Branch.”
Assaulted and arrested for riding her bicycle through a parking lot, Tillman recently expanded her lawsuit to include the Tacoma Police Department in order to limit the use of reasonable force and to hold officers accountable for using excessive force. Although Williams was caught on surveillance video attacking and tazing an innocent teen, no criminal charges have been filed against him.