She Flagged Down Cops, Was 'Victimized' Herself

City of Scottsdale settles with Yessenia Garcia for $200K after wrongful hit-and-run arrest
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2023 10:30 AM CDT

An Arizona woman has been granted a $200,000 settlement from the city of Scottsdale and its police department after she says she was wrongfully arrested for a hit-and-run nearly three years ago. "Yessenia is totally innocent," Benjamin Taylor, the attorney for Yessenia Garcia, tells the Washington Post. "She reached out to Scottsdale police for help as a victim, and she ended up being victimized." Per the federal lawsuit filed by Garcia, she and her boyfriend met friends for a night out on May 24, 2020, leaving her car in a lot in downtown Scottsdale. Her attorneys say she parked the car around 8:40pm, per the Arizona Republic.

Garcia and her boyfriend left the club around 11:15pm to get cigarettes from her car, found her windshield smashed, and flagged down two Scottsdale police officers, identified as Kavon Attarpour and Nicolas Fay, to report the apparent vandalism, per the suit. What happened instead is that the cops accused the two of being suspects in a hit-and-run that had taken place about 30 minutes earlier—despite the couple showing receipts of their transactions at the club and friends coming out to vouch for them. Garcia's suit—which says the officers "ignored a plethora of ... evidence readily available to them at the scene," per the Post—also notes there were no dents to the car's hood or bumper, no blood or human tissue was present on the vehicle, and the hood of the car was cool, indicating it hadn't been driven in some time.

Later surveillance footage showed a vandal causing the damage to Garcia's car. Per Garcia's complaint, the police department released her name and mugshot to the media and depicted her as a "drunk driver" involved in a hit-and-run, causing her "severe emotional distress." In January 2022, an internal probe determined that seven employees of the Scottsdale PD in total breached department policies, with the police department's police chief admitting they'd made some "mistakes." Taylor says the incident shattered his client's trust in law enforcement, per the Arizona Republic. "How do you trust police anymore?" he says. "How do you trust and call an officer anymore when you knew what happened last time when you trusted an officer?" (More settlement stories.)

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