The City of Aurora coughed up $335,000 to settle a lawsuit filed over an incident caught on a hospital surveillance video camera that left a woman in jail for assaulting an officer.
But a hospital surveillance camera told a different story.
Aurora cops initially lied in their police reports about the incident and the attorney for OyZhana Williams, 24, says if it wasn’t for the video, his client would have had to face the likely dilemma of taking a plea or going to trial.
“If it wasn’t for the video, Ms. Williams would have had the stark and horrific choice of either taking the risk of going to trial and accusing three sworn police officers of lying or taking a plea bargain admitting to something she didn’t do,” Adam Frank told Westword.
“And this horrible choice is one people face all the time when they are assaulted by the police.”
Video from the hospital, where Williams had taken her boyfriend for medical treatment shows Aurora cops Sgt. Mike Hawkins and Jordan Odneal grabbing Williams, choking her neck, using a leg sweep to trip her and tackling her on the ground.
The incident took place on December 22, 2015, when Williams’s significant other, Blake Newton, was shot.
Terrified, Williams rushed Newton to the UC Health emergency room.
Upon their arrival, officers Odneal, Ortiz and Hawkins spoke to Williams for about five minutes.
The officers told her the car in which she transported her boyfriend would have to be towed “so it could be searched and examined for evidence.”
Williams then appeased the officers, walking with Hawkins to the vehicle, allowing him to search without any interference.
Williams then returned with Hawkins to the emergency room lobby at around 3:50 a.m. and accompanied Newton as he was being wheeled on a gurney into an ambulance to be transferred to the main UC Health Hospital to receive further treatment.
Williams then got into a verbal argument when Sgt. Hawkins asked for the keys to her car.
Her lawsuit claims Hawkins “had no legal right” to make that request.
Williams’s attorney says even though the department didn’t admit, or apologize, for doing anything wrong, the settlement sends a clear message.
“I’ve never heard of anyone paying $335,000 because they did nothing wrong,” he said.
“[The city’s statement] is the kind of thing defendants say, and it’s unfortunate that they say it. But I think any reasonable person knows you don’t pay a third of a million dollars unless you did something wrong.”
The video, included above, has no sound, but shows Sgt. Hawkins pointing his finger in Williams’s face before she raises her keys and dramatically drops them on the ground at the officer’s request.