AURORA | A 23-year-old woman has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against Aurora police, saying that three officers wrongly slammed her to the ground and choked her during a 2015 arrest — an arrest recorded on surveillance cameras.
Lawyers for OyZhana Williams filed the civil rights lawsuit in federal court Monday morning accusing the officers of beating her and then lying about it in their police reports.
Williams was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer after the arrest but those charges were later dropped.
The lawsuit doesn’t ask for a specific dollar amount and Adam Frank, Williams’ lawyer, said he is asking for “justice for Ms. Williams.”
“What the officers did is already done, it is terrible, it can’t be undone,” he said. “At the same time the city of Aurora still has the opportunity to treat this case correctly.”
In a statement Tuesday Aurora police said the department was not aware of the incident until the lawsuit was filed. Williams did not file a complaint through the department’s official complaint system, according to the statement posted to the department’s facebook page.
“We are taking this allegation seriously. At this time, Chief Metz has directed that the incident be investigated immediately by the Internal Affairs Bureau,” the statement said.
Sgt. Hawkins is working in an administrative position, the statement said, and the other officers named remain on patrol.
The lawsuit names the three officers — Sgt. Michael Hawkins, Officer Jordan Odneal and officer Jose Ortiz — in their individual capacity.
The incident started in the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2015, when Williams rushed her boyfriend to a hospital after he was shot, according to the lawsuit.
Police asked to search Williams’ car for evidence related to the shooting and she allowed them to, the lawsuit says.
Later police said they planned to tow the vehicle and demanded Williams’ keys, which she initially refused to give them, the lawsuit says.
Frank said Williams balked at giving the police her keys because they had no legal authority to take them from her.
Eventually, Williams dropped the keys in front of an officer.
The video shows the officer then tackling Williams before several other officers join him in restraining Williams on the ground. The officers then shove Williams into the back seat of a police cruiser.
Williams was booked into the city jail and was behind bars for several days, including Christmas Eve and Christmas, before being released, the lawsuit says.
Frank said Williams lost her job because of the incident and struggled to find a new job while the assault charges were pending.
“This ruined her life,” he said.
Video footage of the incident can be seen here: