Mariah Valenzuela, 23, was on her way home from picking up a takeout order from a local restaurant on January 17th when she was pulled over by a Phoenix police officer [Source: The Guardian]. Police body cam footage from the stop was recently made available to the public and in it, Valenzuela is seen calmly getting out of her vehicle and greeting Officer Michael McGillis with an “Oh hey.” McGillis then asks the young woman if she has a license. After Valenzuela says no, she then asks the officer several times why she is being pulled over.
Seconds later, Valenzuela says the officer “tackled and slammed her on the ground, injuring her head, face, hands, and legs.” Valenzuela also said the officer never informed her of why she was being stopped. According to McGillis, the woman had been driving in the wrong lane which prompted him to initiate the traffic stop.
After that, Valenzuela can be heard screaming in pain and questioning why she was being arrested as the officer attempted to place her in handcuffs. At the end of the video, another officer who had responded to the incident was heard discussing the traffic stop with a supervisor. The officer is heard saying that Valenzuela was “all over the place” and that she was “looney tunes.” The supervisor then directed the officer to “just to CYA [cover your ass]” when writing [the] follow-up reports.”
After the incident unfolded, Valenzuela was “taken to jail, ticketed for a range of misdemeanors, including failure to have ID on her, “failure to comply with an officer”, and driving “left of center”. The source says the woman was also charged with DUI “impaired to the slightest degree” along with resisting arrest and creating a substantial risk of physical injury to an officer even though her blood alcohol content level was below the legal limit and she expressed that she was willing to comply with the officer’s commands.
The 23-Year-Old and Mother of 2 Hires an Attorney
Sometime after the violent traffic stop, Valenzuela hired an attorney to combat the use of force that was applied. The woman claims that as a result of the officer slamming her head into her car and on the ground, she suffered severe bruising and sustained scratches on her face and legs. The source says that her attorney has “launched a civil complaint against McGillis [and] a phlebotomist in the DUI unit, [and she is] alleging false arrest and imprisonment.”
While prosecutors decided to dismiss all of the misdemeanor charges, the felony charge of resisting an arrest is still pending. Valenzuela claims the incident also resulted in her suffering from PTSD and has left her feeling worried when she goes out alone at night.
If you live in Yuma, AZ and were injured by a police officer, you may have a viable case against the officer and/or their department. To find out if your injuries warrant legal action, contact the Yuma, AZ accident lawyers at Schneider & Onofry, P.C.
Schneider & Onofry, P.C. can be reached at:
207 W. 2nd Street
Yuma, AZ 85364