The University of Arizona student knocked over a bench by a Tucson police officer after the Wildcats lost in the NCAA basketball tournament has filed a $375,000 claim against the city.
An attorney representing Christina Gardilcic named the city, Tucson Police Department and the officer, Sgt. Joel Mann, in her claim.
The claim asserts Mann “blindsided” a defenseless Gardilcic with his club on March 29 as she walked toward the Tyndall Avenue garage with two others.
Gardilcic, who was in her final semester at the university, landed on a nearby bench and suffered a bruised arm and subsequent back spasms, the claim says.
The claim asserts Mann’s actions amounted to battery that night, and that the 18-year police veteran violated TPD policies.
In addition to the physical injuries, Gardilcic suffered mental anguish and a loss of faith in the system, the claim says.
“Most of us, like Ms. Gardilcic, are raised to believe that police officers are there to help us, just as long as we obey the law. A breach of that trust is devastating, and inexplicable,” the claim said.
City Attorney Mike Rankin said his office will review and evaluate the claim.
The claim says TPD’s approach to crowd control during the post-game riot contributed to the incident since it failed to place officers near stores to direct customers away from the riot scene.
A raucous crowd gathered that night at East University Boulevard and North Tyndall Avenue in Main Gate Square after the Wildcats’ loss in the Elite Eight round of the tournament.
The crowd was peaceful initially, but then some people began taunting officers and throwing bottles and firecrackers at them.
Video from Mann’s body camera that night showed a woman talking on her cellphone as she walked by Mann, apparently unaware that he was repeatedly yelling for the crowd to “get back.”
As she walked by, Mann knocked her down on a bench.
Other clips from Mann’s video showed he shoved another woman that night who was standing next to a man sitting at a sidewalk table.
A TPD review board determined Mann’s actions that night were inappropriate. Mann will be served with a disciplinary action when he returns sometime this month from a military deployment, TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor said in a previous article.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the TPD’s Office of Internal Affairs reviewed Mann’s actions. The FBI is reviewing his behavior for civil-rights violations.
Results of those inquires have yet to be released.