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Teen accuses Phoenix officers of burning her during arrest

A Black teen is suing the Phoenix Police Department for excessive force. The moment of contention is when officers restrained the teen on the hot sidewalk.

PHOENIX — A Black teen is suing the Phoenix Police Department for excessive force. 

The moment of contention is when officers restrained the teen on the hot sidewalk to put handcuffs on her. Her attorneys say officers’ actions gave her second-degree burns.

Video from the Phoenix Police Department shows the moment 17-year-old Roniah Trotter got into an altercation with a classmate outside of the metro bus in August. It happened on 19th Avenue and Baseline Road.

Both teens were throwing punches and fell to the ground in the process. When police arrived, officers say the other teen complied, but Trotter didn’t. In the video, you can see one officer attempt to handcuff Trotter, but she starts kicking, so two officers step in to help.

She is then taken to the ground. Trotter is now suing the officers and the City of Phoenix for what happened in the 33 seconds she spent on the hot sidewalk in 113-degree weather.

The complaint said a doctor diagnosed Trotter with second-degree burns that she sustained while on the ground. He said her resistance was a reflexive reaction to the pain.

The Phoenix Fire Department responded to the call and found Trotter's injuries didn't merit transport to the hospital.

Trotter, now 18, is suing officers for excessive force, and the city for municipal liability, assault and battery, emotional distress, and negligence. The Phoenix Police Department said, “The force which was used was found to be in policy”. 

But Trotter’s attorney says officers shouldn’t be allowed to hold suspects to hot surfaces.

Trotter has completed probation after pleading guilty to assaulting the teen in the video. As a part of her plea agreement, charges for assault against an officer and resisting arrest were dropped.

This is a developing story. 12 News will update as more information is provided. 

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