UA alumna takes legal action against TPD

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.

Jocelyn Valencia

The case that opened as a result of the phone-recorded video that went viral, capturing a UA student being knocked down by a TPD officer during an unlawful assembly, isn’t closed. After the UA men’s basketball team’s loss in the Elite Eight game against the Wisconsin Badgers, fans flooded to University Boulevard and began an unlawful assembly, prompting the Tucson Police Department to take action. Not everyone on the scene participated in the confrontation, including Christina Gardilcic, a UA alumna, who was knocked down by Sgt. Joel Mann, a TPD officer. She is now making a case against TPD. There have been investigations the past couple of months, and now Gardilcic is filing a Notice of Claim. It is required by law to file a Notice of Claim before a lawsuit can take place.

“After watching the game at Frog & Firkin, my friend and I had walked to Chipotle to get some food to go,” Gardilcic said. “We were in there for about 20 minutes waiting in line, which was when the crowds on the street started to get bigger. After leaving Chipotle, we crossed the street toward Grand Central with the intention of going to Tyndall [Avenue] Parking Garage where our car was parked. While walking and observing the crowds, I had looked down at my phone, and all of a sudden I was on the bench in front of Dunkin’ Donuts. I had thought maybe I bumped into something. I had no idea what was going on at first.”

Gardilcic didn’t understand what had happened until the people around her were yelling at Mann, asking him why he did that. She didn’t talk to Mann because he walked away from her after the incident, according to Gardilcic. She said she had been left with a large bruise on her left arm and some back spasms.

According to Gardilcic, Mann pushed Gardilcic because he was doing his job.

“I honestly wanted an apology at first, and I have not gotten one,” Gardilcic said. “Now I hope that TPD can come up with a better system of training or ways to handle riots and other situations.”

Former UA student Phoebe Landolt is a witness of the incident and the one who originally uploaded the video of the encounter between Gardilcic and the officer. Landolt’s friend, a current UA student who wished their name to remain anonymous, recorded it on their phone. Landolt posted the video to her personal Facebook page, and then someone else uploaded it to YouTube where it got over 85,000 views.

Landolt didn’t anticipate that the video would make national news. She was planning to show the video only to friends and family to point out police brutality.

“Somebody had taken my video and uploaded it to YouTube and then was basically starting to make money off the video,” Landolt said. “At that point, I had it taken down [because] I didn’t have her name. There was no way for me to take any of the money from the video to give to her to press charges or whatever it may have been. So, I only had hoped the best for her and then removed everything once I’ve gotten the word out about what happened and that the cop was proven, hopefully, guilty by the video.”

Other news media outlets, as well as the Daily Wildcat, have reached out to the TPD, but it has declined to comment on this case because it is still open.

Gardilcic respects the police force and its job to maintain a level of safety, but she said there has been abuse of authority with law enforcement.

“There’s clearly [excess] with a lot of stuff that’s been going on just in general with the police authority,” Landolt said. “That there’s a little bit of abusive power, and I think there needs to be better training as far as the adrenaline that runs in these situations that can kind of take over. What that cop did, maybe it wasn’t his intention, but because of the situation that happened, that is not OK.”

“At first, I think I was calm about it and just wanted the situation to get resolved,” Gardilic said. “But the fact that TPD has not apologized or even acknowledged me is very frustrating. I just hope it gets resolved soon.”

—Follow Jocelyn Valencia @_JocelynV_