Independent Police Auditor says use of force within policy in Tamiko Mitchell arrest

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 3:29 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka’s Independent Police Auditor says his investigation found the actions of two Topeka Police officers during the Aug. 23 arrest of Tamiko Mitchell were within policy.

Mitchell says she was pulled over for running a red light, and the officer slammed her to the ground. Mitchell suffered a fractured nose and eye injuries from the incident.

According to the report, Mitchell confirmed during the traffic stop that her license had been suspended and she had warrants for her arrest. When the Sergeant asked her to turn off the car and get out, they had to repeat the order several times.

“Sergeant asked Driver to shut the vehicle off twice before she complied. During this conversation, Sergeant also asked Driver to exit her vehicle 6 times before she complied,” the report said.

The auditor’s report then uses police body cam video and narratives from those involved to detail how the Sergeant made physical contact with Mitchell by grabbing her left hand, which the auditor found was per protocol.

“The verbal persuasion, advisements and warnings did not seem to affect Driver’s level of cooperation to handcuffing. Her hands were still in front of her body and she was still facing the officers and appears to be actively resisting placing her hands behind her back. Driver had sufficient time to turn and allow herself to be handcuffed. She did not avail herself of this opportunity,” the report states.

The investigation indicates Mitchell met the criteria of resisting arrest.

“Sergeant had given Driver verbal advisements to exit her vehicle, to stop resisting and to place her hands behind her back. Although Driver insisted that she would do it, she continued to actively resist,” the report states.

Mitchell says she was getting out slowly due to medical reasons. As soon as she exited the vehicle, she says the officer “twisted her arm.”

“The injury was a collateral effect of the take down. It appears, based on the involved officer’s narratives, that the curb may have been a contributing factor in the accelerated inertia of the fall. It appears that either Sergeant, Driver or both may have lost their footing because of the curb,” the report states.

Mitchell was checked by AMR, then transported to the hospital for evaluation.

The report makes no recommendation regarding the use of force, however the auditor does recommend command-level action regarding an instance of profanity used by the officer, and comments by the Sergeant that were not in keeping with policy to show the utmost patience and discretion.

“Officer used profanity when she stated, ‘Don’t f***ing reach for my belt’.” It continues, “While Driver was being seen by the Medics in his patrol car and she was explaining herself to them, he stated, ‘Just stick to the medical, they’re not here to investigate your case …they don’t care about your case …well, she sounds fine in my opinion.’ These comments agitated Driver and were not conducive to the process.”

Mitchell’s attorney, LaRonna Lassiter, said her client finished her victim statement Thursday at noon and less than three hours later, the auditors report was finalized.

In a statement to 13 NEWS Lassiter questioned the auditors decision saying, ""I encourage the people of Topeka to ask the “independent” auditor, how many of the 100 plus excessive force complaints he has investigated, have been found in the favor of the victim?"

City spokesperson Molly Hadfield said the city will not release the police body cam video, until the criminal proceedings against Mitchell are concluded.

Read the full report and witness statements HERE.

Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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