Tasered teen: 'It felt like electricity running through my veins'


    TACOMA, Wash. -- Monique Tillman said she's still shocked by the violent confrontation that unfolded with police last May in the Tacoma Mall parking lot.

    Now she and the Tacoma Police Department have very different versions of how their violent confrontation transpired.

    Tillman was 15-years old at the time and riding bikes on a Saturday with her 16-year-old brother. They'd left McDonald's and decided to take a short cut home through the mall's lot. Mall security ordered the teens to pull over, but officers say the kids didn't stop.

    Security video shows Tillman, now 16, talking with an off-duty Tacoma Police officer hired by the mall for crime prevention. Their encounter rapidly escalates.

    "He was just pulling my hair and like he was trying to slam my face into the ground," she said.

    The officer looks to take out a note pad to write down information. Tillman said she didn't have identification and thought she was being racially profiled and told the officer that. Before the officer could write anything down, Tillman admits she tried to ride away. That's when he grabbed her.

    "I did have a bit of an attitude, but that's because it was a waste of my time. I hadn't done anything wrong," she said.

    The police report described the kids cutting off cars earlier, swearing and yelling at anyone who honked at them, and that the mall wanted them stopped and given a trespassing notice.

    "I felt like they just see me as some black kid wanting to cause problems or something. And it was nothing like that," said the 11th grader.

    The report claims Tillman, who says she's a straight A student at Bates Technical High School, became belligerent, swearing, screaming, and resisting until she was Tased by the Tacoma officer.

    "It felt like electricity running through my veins instead of blood," she said.

    That's when she stopped resisting and started cooperating. An attorney for the family plans to sue the Tacoma Police Department and the off-duty officer.

    "This officer was obviously confused about what his powers were and he chose to exceed what he was allowed to do and hurt my client," said attorney Tom Balerud.

    Balerud said the officer was performing a corporate function for the mall, not a police function, and abused his power. Tacoma Police Department Public Information Officer Loretta Cool disagrees.

    Of the officer, Cool said, "His presence at the Tacoma Mall, even though off duty and paid by mall, he's a police officer and he's acting as a police officer."

    He had his car, his uniform, and his Taser. Cool said the second he was called on to order the teens off the private property and turned his lights on, the officer was working on the city's payroll, not the mall's.

    A department investigation into the use of force determined the officer could have used more force than he did on the teen when she fought back. Cool said it looked like he was going easy on the girl because of her age and size.

    Balerud said the thought that more force would have been acceptable under department policy is reprehensible.

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