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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Prosecutor will not press charges against TPD sergeant

Jeff+Wick+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0ATucson+PD+and+riot+police+try+to+control+an+angry+crowd+after+the+Wildcat+basketball+game+Saturday+night.
Jeff Wick
Jeff Wick / The Daily Wildcat Tucson PD and riot police try to control an angry crowd after the Wildcat basketball game Saturday night.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office announced it is not pressing criminal charges against the Tucson police officer who shoved three people during the unlawful assembly that occurred in March after the UA’s loss in the Elite Eight tournament.

Kellie Johnson, chief criminal deputy at the Pima County Attorney’s Office, disclosed in a letter to Jeff Brown, a detective for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, that after watching video footage of the unlawful assembly from March 29, criminal charges will not be filed against Tucson Police Department’s Sgt. Joel Mann. The video footage was from cameras attached to TPD officers’ helmets that night.

According to Johnson’s letter, there is a process the state must go through to prove criminal assault. Johnson said in the letter that there has to be an intent to cause harm to an individual.

Johnson said based on the video footage of that night, Mann did not show any criminal intent in his actions. According to Johnson, Mann’s use of force was to keep away from the unlawful assembly and protect the back part of the skirmish line.

“It does appear that Sergeant Mann’s use of force in these two situations was somewhat overzealous, and not necessary to accomplish the objective he intended,” Johnson writes in the letter.

One of the individuals Johnson refers to in her letter is UA alumna Christina Gardilcic, whose assault made national news after a video was published of Mann shoving her and knocking her over a bench.

Gardilcic has since filed a $375,000 claim against the city of Tucson.

The other two individuals, who were not identified in Johnson’s letter, were also shoved by Mann. Johnson describes in the letter that based on the video footage, the two individuals were on University Boulevard when Mann asked them to leave the area. They didn’t leave, and the video footage showed Mann shoving the woman and then later shoving the man.

Johnson said in the letter that the evidence she looked through, including interviews with Mann and video footage, indicated Mann did not show criminal intent and the state could not “prove any criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Sgt. Chris Widmer, the TPD public information officer, said the criminal investigation was handed to the Pima County Attorney’s Office, but that TPD was still conducting an internal investigation. Widmer said TPD could not release any details until its internal investigation was complete.

In July, the TPD Board of Inquiry found police action during the post-Elite Eight melee justified, but said Mann’s actions were inappropriate.

— The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Gardilcic filed a lawsuit against the city. She filed a claim. The article has been updated.

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Follow Meghan Fernandez on Twitter.

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