A city police officer pushed a Washington State University student against a wall so hard during an arrest that her face was split open from her eye to her hairline.
The student, Amy Teichroew, 20, of Federal Way, filed a $50,000 claim for damages with the city Thursday. She alleges officer Mike Carlton intentionally used excessive force on Sept. 17 when he arrested her for being a minor in possession of alcohol.
Teichroew was convicted of the charge Nov. 30. During the trial, Carlton, 34, acknowledged he didn’t turn on his lights or siren or identify himself before pushing Teichroew from behind.
Teichroew had just dropped two bottles of beer and was running away from Carlton toward the Campus Commons North apartments.
“In order to stop her flight, I put my hand between her shoulder blades and pushed her up against the building,” Carlton said. “That stopped her flight. I told her she didn’t need to do that.”
Teichroew’s cut required 11 stitches and left a permanent scar from the corner of her right eye toward her ear, her lawyer, Wynn Mosman of Moscow, Idaho, said Thursday.
Her injury comes as Pullman police are attempting to form better ties with local citizens through a community policing program and a citizen advisory board.
The fact that Teichroew is a WSU student won’t help the effort. An October assessment of public perceptions of the department found that off-campus WSU students hold a particularly dim view of the force, with more than half the students in a focus group saying they have negative views of the city police.
Chief Ted Weatherly Thursday declined to comment on the claim.
But he said he reviewed the incident to see if there were any violations of departmental policy and found none. Because of that, he said he does not expect to take any personnel action against Carlton.
Speaking in general terms, Weatherly said an officer does not need to identify himself to a suspect while in uniform.
Mosman, however, said Washington law lets an officer use force only after saying he or she plans to arrest the suspect.
“If he already said, ‘halt,’ ‘stop,’ ‘I want to question you,’ our position would be greatly weakened,” he said. “But he didn’t say anything like that. That’s undisputed.”
The attorney also contends Carlton used too much force in arresting a young woman for a “low-level misdemeanor.” The officer could have stopped her by grabbing her or even threatening to hit her, Mosman said.
“It suggests to me a lack of perspective just in terms of the type of event he’s dealing with,” he said.
Teichroew declined to comment Thursday.
Carlton, a five-year member of the force, could not be reached. In last month’s trial, he said he meant to push Teichroew - who is 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs 110 pounds - against the apartment building wall to “trap her.”
Instead, he pushed her across a sidewalk into the building’s vinyl siding, which he later saw was cracked.
Asked why he didn’t just tackle her, Carlton said, “I don’t have a penchant for getting hurt myself. And second of all, you never know what you’re going to land on. I felt that was the best of the options, was to just stop her flight by trapping her against something.”
He didn’t think she would get injured, he said.
“You might get bruised,” Carlton said, “but you’re certainly not going to get a laceration.”
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