WATCH: Tacoma Police Review Use-of-Force Policy After $500,000 Judgement

The Tacoma Police Department says it will review its Use of Force Policy Monday after a federal court found an officer used excessive force against a 15-year-old girl in 2014.

In 2014, Monique Tillman was thrown to the ground and tasered by Tacoma Police Officer Jared Williams. She was 15-years-old at the time and she and her brother were initially stopped at the Tacoma Mall for disrupting traffic.

Last week, Tillman and her brother were awarded $500,000 after a federal jury found the officer used excessive force and violated Monique’s constitutional rights. Officer Williams is still employed by the Tacoma Police Department.

KING 5 asked the department how it came to that decision. We took the following questions to Bill Fosbre, the city’s attorney who represents the Tacoma Police Department.

1) Under what part of the policy was Officer Williams’ actions lawful (i.e. in compliance with the policy)?

Essentially, the policy allows an officer to use that force which is reasonable and necessary to discharge their duties. The policy addresses use of force based on the subject’s actions and then identifies a range of potentially acceptable responses from the officer. For example, an officer may use any number of different compliance techniques when dealing with an actively resistant subject. All uses of forces must be evaluated on a case by case basis, in light of a totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time.

2) When and what training was Officer Williams required to take following the incident?

After a use of force deployment, a supervisor will review the incident for potential training opportunities. In this matter, a supervisor suggested Officer Williams have a refresher on defensive tactics. The individualized training was not done, but Officer Williams was provided subsequent training as part of a department-wide training effort in February 2015.

3) How can the public participate and give input on the policy and any contemplated changes?

The public can provide input on any of the department’s policies through the Citizen Police Advisory Committee (CPAC). The CPAC reviews all significant changes to policies, as well as provides input on existing or new policies. Members of the public can attend the CPAC meetings and give input. In addition, members of the public can provide input on department policies or concerns regarding a specific incident or an officer through the Department’s website or the City’s TacomaFirst 311 information service.

On an ongoing basis, the Tacoma Police Department reviews its internal policies and procedures to ensure that the highest law enforcement standards, as defined by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, are met. This commitment includes a review and analysis of its Use of Force Policy. The content of the review includes an analysis of the volume and types of occurrences involving the use of force to ensure that the department is accountable to the public, and in alignment with current laws as well as best law enforcement practices. The Use of Force Policy will be reviewed following this recent court case.

KING 5 also sat down with Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, who spearheaded a project in Tacoma called Project Peace. It’s program that, in part, works to build trust between the community and police department as well as increase officer awareness on institutional racism/implicit bias/cultural competency and de-escalation

“There are always ways to engage in Tacoma to really talk about relationships between our community and our police department,” said Woodards. “Right now they’re meeting with youth and having youth dialogue around police relations.”

“I think it’s incumbent upon us as policymakers to make sure that there are ways to engage but I think when we make those ways to engage then it’s incumbent upon the community to take advantage of those.”