AURORA, Colo. – The city Aurora has agreed to pay $335,000 to a woman who was slammed to the ground by an Aurora Police Department sergeant then charged with assaulting an officer and placed in jail for several days.
The payment comes as part of a settlement between the city and OyZhana Williams, whose Dec. 22, 2015 arrest was captured by security cameras at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Williams was at the hospital that day because she had taken her boyfriend there after being shot.
According to Williams and her attorneys, APD Sgt. Michael Hawkins and officers Jordan Odneal and Jose Ortiz, who were tasked with investigating the shooting, were trying to get Williams to allow them to search her car in connection with the shooting.
She didn’t want to give up her keys, and eventually dropped them on the ground, at which time Hawkins allegedly threw her out of his police cruiser, choked her and threw her to the ground, where her attorneys say he “stomped on Williams’ head.”
Williams was arrested and charged with assaulting a peace officer, which Williams’ attorney, Adam Frank, said stemmed from “misleading reports” written by the officers who were involved.
“Ms. Williams spent 8 days in jail, including Christmas, and spent the next year of her life living under the threat of 4-12 years in prison,” Frank said in a statement. “Fortunately, the incident was caught on the hospital’s surveillance cameras. That video showed the officers were lying and Ms. Williams was telling the truth.”
Frank said that Williams lost her job while she was jailed on the assault charge, which was eventually dropped. He claimed in the lawsuit that Williams suffered lasting migraine headaches from the injuries she sustained in the ordeal.
“While this resolution will not erase the trauma Ms. Williams endured, FRANK & SALAHUDDIN LLC and Ms. Williams are pleased that Aurora has since issued body cameras to its police officers and reformed its policies surrounding officers’ use of force,” Frank said in a statement about the settlement. “Hopefully these policy changes prevent others from suffering what Ms. Williams was forced to endure at the hands of Sergeant Hawkins.”
Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman said in a statement that settling the case would cost less than taking it through a prolonged court case.
“The city has entered into a settlement agreement with Ms. Williams on this matter,” Hyman said. “As part of that agreement, the city did not admit liability in this case. This case was settled for the reason that many cases are settled – to avoid the cost of prolonged litigation. That cost would have far exceeded the value of the settlement.”