Yessenia Garcia wrongful arrest settlement approved at City Hall
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
Part of the most recent approval of the routine Scottsdale City Council consent agenda — typically items already negotiated, clerical notifications and budgetary approvals — included a $200,000 out-of-court settlement agreement between the municipality and Yessenia Garcia.
Those settlement dollars, which has been widely reported by all major news outlets across the Valley of the Sun, are in exchange to settle claims of wrongful arrest and alleged civil rights violations stemming from an arrest made in May 2020.
Records show the trial was set to commence May 9, 2023, in an Arizona courtroom part of United States District Court.
The settlement approved by Scottsdale City Council earlier this week settles all claims against the municipality and defendants listed in the notice of claim of wrongful arrest, according to resolution No. 12794.
Those claims included: False arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the settlement agreement states.
Furthermore, details of the agreement state payment quashes ‘all claims of any kind’ stemming from this incident and upon payment of settlement Ms. Garcia and her legal representation ought to say ‘the case is settled’ when speaking about the case in the public realm.
“I was arrested, forced to strip, humiliated, and my photo put all over the news because the police chose to ignore the evidence. Still, I am one of the lucky ones,” Ms. Garcia said in a prepared statement. “We shouldn’t have to fear false arrest, humiliation, or even death for simply seeking help from the police.”
1ON1 with Attorney Benjamin Taylor
The Arizona Digital Free Press spoke with Attorney Benjamin Taylor of Taylor & Gomez, who successfully negotiated favorable terms for his client following alleged misconduct by the Scottsdale Police Department.
Of Note: An important designation of settlement terms, the document states, is the out-of-court settlement provides ‘no admission of guilt’ by the municipality of Scottsdale.
“Scottsdale needs to answer that question,” Mr. Taylor said in response to being asked how, with evidence in hand, did the unlawful arrest of Ms. Garcia unfold.
“Looking at the evidence, they just drew conclusions without listening to what Yessenia had to say. Her witnesses are seen in the video telling cops where they were and asked for them to confirm where they were. Common sense dictates that if you are committing crime you don’t waive down the police for help.”
Mr. Taylor explains his client brought significant claims of civil rights violations against the Scottsdale Police Department.
“She went from being a victim of a crime to being victimized by the enforcement of the Scottsdale Police Department,” he explained. “That is what is so absurd and ridiculous about the arrest is there is video showing an unidentified individual jumping on the hood of her car.”
Mr. Taylor provides his client claims questionable behavior from arresting officers listed in the settlement claim.
“We don’t know for sure, but when they arrest her, they booked her, they made her strip naked because of what one officer thought was something shiny on her clothes,” he pointed out. “Sprinkles of glass from a hit and run … the video shows her car never moved. They have body camera footage of an officer going to the Galleria and talking with a security officer and viewing the same video that shows someone stomping on Yessenia’s vehicle.”
Mr. Talyor says local police officers have a difficult job to do every day, but he believes a lesson can be learned for future incidents to be handled.
“This traumatized her for the rest of her life. Her mug shot was blasted all across the internet — this is a lesson to be learned,” Mr. Taylor said. “And, because they wear a badge they need to be careful to give people the respect they deserve and not violate their rights. The body camera footage shows an officer basically ignoring the video. She was telling the truth and there is no good reason why they should not have verified her story.”