Elderly Mesa woman sues city, officers over ‘thug-like’ treatment by police

Aug 2, 2018, 2:02 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm
(Ashlee Hahn Photos)...
(Ashlee Hahn Photos)
(Ashlee Hahn Photos)

PHOENIX – An 84-year-old woman who accused police in Mesa of roughing her up earlier this year filed a federal lawsuit against the city and two officers Thursday.

An attorney for Virginia Archer called the incident a “thug-like criminal attack” and alluded to other allegations of police brutality against the department.

“The fact that the police, particularly in Mesa, have proven time and time again that they are incapable of policing themselves, people like Virginia Archer have no option other than to file a lawsuit,” Solomon Radner, partner for Michigan-based Excolo Law, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Radner said his client is seeking monetary damages, although an amount wasn’t specified in lawsuit. He said he’d leave the compensation up to a jury.

“What we’re really seeking is justice and change,” he said.

Media relations Officer Steve Berry told the Associated Press the department could not comment because the case involves pending litigation and said the officers would not be made available for comment.

On Feb. 14, officers responded to a call that Archer’s grandson might be suicidal and have a gun.

Archer told the Associated Press it was raining when she walked outside her house near McKellips and Gilbert roads in her pajamas to talk with the officers, and one grabbed her arm and threw her to the ground. She said she was also unnecessarily handcuffed.

Officers Christopher Orr and David Grimm were named in the lawsuit.

“No one has ever hurt me as bad as he did,” Archer said. “It just makes you so afraid that you don’t want to open your front door or ever call the police again.”

The lawsuit alleged that Orr harmed Archer and Grimm failed to intervene. It said the officers later attempted to justify their actions by contending the woman was being combative and not following directions. It said the department took no action against the officers.

Radner said Archer lost consciousness after hitting the ground.

“If that’s not bad enough, they decided to charge her with a crime, which thankfully the prosecutor had the good sense to dismiss,” he said.

The incident drew attention after Archer’s daughter, Ashlee Hahn, posted photos on Facebook of her mother’s injuries. Deep bruises could be seen on Archer’s face and arms.

In the post, Hahn said her mother had been recovering from her fourth stroke and was traumatized by the incident.

“Any other people who would have done this to an 84-year-old woman who did not do anything to provoke such an attack would have been charged, at the very least, with assault, and most likely with some sort of felonious assault,” Radner said.

A Mesa Police Department Facebook post that included body camera footage said the officers were trying to move Archer away from the house, where they thought her grandson might pose a threat

The department has been under scrutiny in recent months for a pair of videotaped encounters involving its officers. The beating of a 33-year-old man captured on videotape as well as the rough treatment of a teenager prompted Chief Ramon Batista in June to hire an outside attorney to investigate. Results of that investigation have not been announced.

Seven Mesa officers were placed on administrative leave with pay — two in the teen’s arrest and five in the the other case.

Batista also asked the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum to conduct an independent review of cases involving force by Mesa police over the past three years.

In a separate case late last year, former Mesa Police Officer Philip Brailsford was acquitted of a murder charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Texas man.

KTAR New 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Elderly Mesa woman sues city, officers over ‘thug-like’ treatment by police