March 22, 2018, Tacoma, WA
After a two week trial in Federal Court in Tacoma, a jury awarded Monique Tillman $500,000 and her brother Eric Branch $50,000 against the City of Tacoma for the actions of an off-duty Tacoma police officer. Surveillance video of the 2014 incident shows a 15-year-old girl and her younger brother pedaling their bikes through the Tacoma Mall parking lot. The officer’s SUV pulls up from behind and he orders them to stop. Monique asked the officer why the pair had been stopped and the officer said that she and her brother “were causing a disturbance” — something that Tillman disputed. Tillman, who is black, asked the officer if she was being harassed because of the color of her skin. The officer then erupted and began brutalizing the teen. He tossed Tillman around like a child’s doll, slamming her into parked vehicles, forcefully shoving his hand and forearm into her chest, grabbing her by the hair and body slamming her into the pavement. The events were caught on surveillance video which subsequently went viral on YouTube:
At trial, additional cell phone video evidence from a bystander was offered into evidence. It is even more compelling.
Monique and her brother were represented at trial by Rick Friedman, Alex Ackel and Vito De La Cruz. Friedman stated, “I am hopeful that this verdict will give some financial security to Monique and her brother and also lead to better police/minority interactions. The videos were certainly powerful evidence at trial. I believe they will be helpful as teaching tools for police officers in the future.”