Gilbert, AZ — Samantha Glass, 36, was clearly drunk, but non-violent and entirely peaceful when she was approached by a Gilbert police officer who wrongfully accused her of trying to break into a truck. Glass never tried to break into said truck, however, during the officer's investigation into his accusations, this small woman would be violently slammed face-first into the concrete. Glass was badly injured and the subsequent brain damage she suffered from the assault is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.
The body camera footage of the incident was just released showing what the lawsuit refers to as entirely "unnecessary and unreasonable force" by the officer involved.
The incident unfolded in May of last year after Glass drove to her ex-husband's apartment to discuss issues regarding their daughter. According to the lawsuit, Glass originally sat on her ex-husband's truck as she waited for him to return home. However, she would eventually move to outside his apartment door where she would sit, peacefully waiting.
According to Glass, as she sat on her ex's car, the alarm went off. This caused neighbors to call the police who then showed up to investigate.Gilbert officer Christopher Robinson was the first to respond.
As the video shows, when Robinson arrived on scene, the conversation began politely enough. However, it quickly turned from polite to volatile once Robinson accused Glass of breaking into her ex-husband's vehicle.
“You heard me. People were watching you over by his truck,” Robinson says. “So what were you doing?”
Because she hadn't been attempting to break into the truck, Glass, visibly intoxicated, had trouble understanding what the officer was talking about. She tells the officer that her ex had promised to help her with a flat tire.
“No, what were you doing to his truck?” Officer Robinson says.
"Nothing," Glass replies.
“You can try better than that,” he says. “What were you doing to his truck?”
“What are you talking about?” she says once more.
“Why would I try to break into his truck when I have my own?” Glass says, as she becomes more frustrated with the interrogation.
“You were trying to break into his truck.”
She stands up. “You’re trying to play my words right now.”
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“No, I’m telling you what people watched,” he says.
Trying to set the record straight, Glass calls her ex so he can explain to the officer that she had permission to be there. Unfortunately for Glass, the call went to voicemail.
Robinson then moves in to handcuff Glass.
“No, you’re not,” she says, trying to walk away.
Robinson then grabs the tiny woman, and slams her face into the concrete. When her head hits, an audible and disturbing cracking sound is heard as Glass goes limp temporarily. As Robinson handcuffs the small woman, blood begins pooling up on the ground.
As the Phoenix New Times reports:
Glass suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from the incident. Her attorney, J. Scott Halverson, alleges she continues to experience cognitive deficits, like short-term memory problems, pain in her face, and severe headaches daily. Since the concussion a little over a year ago, she’s received ongoing treatment from a neurologist, who is assessing the long-term damage, Halverson said.
She was later charged with interfering with a police officer and extreme DUI. Gilbert online records show she was convicted in May 2018 of the crimes, both misdemeanors, and still owes nearly $3,000 to the court. She was never charged with vehicle burglary.
No one here is disputing the fact that Glass was extremely drunk. However, the lawsuit alleges that the level of force used by Robinson was way over the top. We agree.
“Police officers are responsible for taking care and not harming people,” Halverson said. “If a person is intoxicated, officers clearly know that their balance and their judgment is impaired. And instead of maybe walking behind her and following her down the stairs, he forces her down in that intoxicated state and forces her down on the concrete. That was excessive force.”
As the Phoenix New Times notes, Gilbert police's use-of-force policy states that Gilbert officers may not resort to force unless other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted, or that doing so would be clearly ineffective under the circumstances.
This did not happen.
Indeed, this small drunk woman was not a threat at all — especially to an armed man in body armor who is likely twice her size. As the video shows, several other officers had arrived and could've helped take Glass into custody before Robinson slammed her face into the concrete.
Glass is now asking for compensation for the physical and psychological damages she suffered as well as ongoing medical expenses. Rest assured, that the taxpayers will now be held liable for the officers actions.