LOS ANGELES – A Sunland woman who accused two Los Angeles police officers of using excessive force during a videotaped arrest at a fast food restaurant parking lot last year has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Michelle Jordan brought the suit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. She alleges excessive force, assault and battery, false imprisonment and negligent hiring, training and retention. She also names as defendants the two officers, Christopher Hajduk and Christopher Carr, and Capt. Joseph Hiltner, who at the time was commander of the Foothill Division.
The suit states that Hajduk is believed to be “one of the officers present during the LAPD’s beating of Rodney King in 1991.”
Jordan is seeking unspecified damages. An LAPD spokesman today declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The registered nurse, then 34, was stopped in a Del Taco parking lot near Foothill Boulevard and Saluda Avenue in Tujunga around 11:15 a.m. last Aug. 21 for allegedly using a cellphone while driving.
Police said Jordan got out of her car and was taken to the ground and handcuffed. After she was handcuffed, she was taken to the ground a second time. The video shows one of the officers landing on top of her during the second takedown.
Jordan was arrested and booked on suspicion of interfering and resisting arrest, and then released on her own recognizance, police said.
According to her lawsuit, Jordan was on her way to pick up her grandmother from a nearby hospital. She never threatened either officer, according to her suit.
“Without cause or justification, the officers grabbed Ms. Jordan and slammed her to the pavement,” her suit states. “The officers then laid on top of Ms. Jordan, forced her arms behind her and handcuffed her. After she was handcuffed, (the) officers picked Ms. Jordan up off the ground and shoved her against the side of their police car.”
After Jordan complained about the treatment, the officers then slammed her down to the pavement again, this time head first, according to her lawsuit. They used such force that skin was “torn off her face, neck and shoulders, and she sustained internal injuries to her abdomen and spine,” the suit states.
“Ms. Jordan was terrified for her life and in a state of utter shock,” the suit states.
After a bloodied Jordan was placed in the back of the patrol car, the officers “engaged in a jovial fist bump celebrating their beating of a defenseless young woman,” the suit states.
Unknown to the patrolmen, their acts were recorded by a parking lot security camera, according to the suit.
Jordan was later held for 6 1/2 hours, but never prosecuted, the suit states.
Jordan now has bulging discs in her spinal column and facial scars, the suit states.
“She experiences recurring nightmares about the beating and has fear and anxiety about her safety,” according to the suit. “The mere sight of police or police vehicles now creates such anxiety for Mr. Jordan that she suffers panic attacks.”
Last September, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck removed Hiltner from command of the Foothill Division and initiated a process to demote him.
“Proper steps were not taken, including appropriate notifications and the removal of the involved officers from the field,” Beck said.
Hiltner’s attorney said the demotion was in response to his involvement in an earlier, unrelated harassment case against another LAPD captain who was eventually exonerated.
Hiltner later filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.