** (Disclaimer: This video content is intended for educational and informational purposes only) **
On January 17, 2020, just before midnight Officer McGillis, who was assigned as a DUI motor officer was patrolling the area of 7th Avenue and Indian School Road when he observed a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road, in an opposing traffic lane. Officer McGillis attempted to stop the driver for the violation.
WATCH 5 MINUTE UNEDITED BODY-WORN CAMERA FOOTAGE OF OFFICER INTERACTION WITH THE WRONG-WAY DRIVING SUSPECT
The driver, who was later identified as Mariah Valenzuela, pulled into a parking spot, and exited her vehicle. Officer McGillis greeted the female, and asked her for her driver license identification, but Valenzuela stated she did not have it on her. Officer McGillis then asked her if she had any form of identification on her, but Valenzuela failed to answer this question or provide any form of identification, and would only communicate by asking why she was being pulled over. Valenzuela’s actions at this point constituted a violation of Arizona Revised Statute 28-1595, which is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Officer McGillis was attempting to relay information to his dispatcher including the location of his stop and the vehicle information, while also dealing with Valenzuela. Office McGillis asked Valenzuela for a third time if she had any identification on her, and she replied “no.”
Due to Valenzuela failing to provide her identification as she was legally required to do, despite the three opportunities Officer McGillis provided her, the decision was made to place her under arrest for the misdemeanor violation. Officer McGillis asked Valenzuela to put her hands behind her back. Up to this point, even though she refused to provide her identification, Officer McGillis and Valenzuela had a cordial exchange, and he did not believe she would suddenly become uncooperative. Officer McGillis then attempted to place her in handcuffs.
Valenzuela immediately became uncooperative and actively resisted the lawful arrest by pulling away and refusing to place her hands behind her back. This constituted a violation of Arizona Revised Statute 13-2508, which is a felony. Valenzuela began screaming and yelling, and would not cooperate with the arrest. Since she was physically resisting arrest, for the safety of both the Officer and Valenzuela, he took her to to the ground. While on the ground, he requested backup while pleading with her to give him her hands. She refused.
Due to Valenzuela actively resisting the arrest, it took Officer McGillis one minute and twenty-seven seconds to place both hands in handcuffs. In the body worn camera video, Officer McGillis can be heard pleading with Valenzuela to put her hands behind her back no less than eight times. He also asked for her arm/hand no less than ten times, and said “stop” or “please stop” eight times. Officer McGillis remained calm and professional, and continually tried to get Valenzuela to calm down and stop resisting the arrest. During this time, he told her why she was under arrest and why she was originally stopped, but Valenzuela continued to argue.
When Officer McGillis thought she had calmed down enough to stand up, he helped her up and they began walking towards a vehicle when she began yelling again. Officer McGillis pushed her against her car to stop her from resisting again. At this time, Valenzuela told Officer McGillis her identification was in her vehicle, however he was never able to locate it.
Valenzuela was arrested and booked that evening for the felony resisting arrest, and was processed and submitted for DUI alcohol and drugs. The resisting arrest charge is actively being charged by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Charges were submitted to the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office for the DUI related and misdemeanor charges.
On one of the body-worn cameras, a supervisor is heard instructing his officers to “CYA”. That comment refers to filling out additional paperwork to document the events surrounding the arrest. In this case, the supervisor was directing the officers to complete a Use of Force Report. Policy does not require filling out a Use of Force Report when a suspect who is resisting arrest is taken to the ground. The supervisor in this case felt it was appropriate to document the injuries on a Use of Force Report even though one was not necessarily required.
The Phoenix Police Department Professional Standards Bureau evaluated the body worn camera and other evidence, and determined there was no violation of policy on behalf of Officer McGillis. Officer McGillis has no other sustained allegations of misconduct within the last five years.
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