In another example of the constant conflicts between law enforcement and people of color, one young black girl from Washington state is fighting back in court. According to the Huffington Post, Monique Tillman was just 15 in 2014 when she was stopped, manhandled, and tased by an off-duty Tacoma Police Department officer working private security for the Tacoma Mall. Now, Tillman is suing the mall and officer, Jared Williams, for unspecified physical, mental, and emotional damages.
“I think it was more racially motivated because I feel like if we were two white kids, they wouldn’t have stopped us,” Tillman told King5 News. “They wouldn’t have said anything to us. They definitely wouldn’t have tased me.”
Video footage captured the incident which shows Tillman and her brother briefly riding their bikes through the mall parking lot as they are followed and eventually stopped by the security officer. After a brief conversation Williams is seen starting to write something down in a notepad, at which point Tillman appears to hop back onto her bike, possibly an attempt at riding away.
Before she has a chance to go anywhere Williams drags her off the bike, and tosses her into surrounding parked vehicles. At one point Williams can be seen with his arm/hand pressed up against Tillman’s chest/throat as the officer pins the 15-year-old girl up against a parked SUV. He then starts to throw her around, grabbing her violently by the hair and eventually tasing her as she lays battered on the ground.
According to Williams, he tased her because she was resisting arrest and allegedly tried to kick him. Another unidentified security officer stood nearby and eventually a slew of other officers responded to the scene. The event is unfortunately all too common. According to a study from a 2011 edition of Pediatrics, one in three people will be arrested by the time they reach the age of 23.
“A child riding a bike should not have to worry that a police officer will stop her without legal cause and brutalize her,” said Tillman’s attorney, Vito de la Cruz in a statement. “Our communities are weary of another African American child being hurt by unwarranted and excessive police force.”
Tillman was charged in juvenile court, but the judge later dismissed the case citing no evidence of wrongdoing by her. The judge’s ruling signifies a stark contrast from typical legal proceedings involving minorities and children of color. According to AmericanProgress.org, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today.
It may be an incident that happened on the complete opposite side of the country, but it’s something of a microcosm of the current climate between law enforcement officers and minorities that virtually every community, including Rochester, is dealing with.