UA student reportedly shoved by police officer speaks out - Tucson News Now

UA student reportedly shoved by police officer speaks out

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Around 8:30 p.m. on March 29 this year, the University of Arizona men's basketball team lost to Wisconsin in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. After the game, hundreds of heavy-hearted students poured out of the bars onto University Boulevard and Main Gate Square. At first, there were no real problems to speak of.

But after a handful of students starting throwing cans and firecrackers at police, everything changed in an instant.

A shaky, 20-second clip of cell phone video has become synonymous with what happened that night: a 21-year-old UA senior walking to her car after the game was confronted and violently shoved to the ground by a Tucson Police officer.

Over the last five months, we've certainly heard a lot about the case. But for the first time on local television, we're hearing directly from the young lady at the center of the storm that night.

"I hope that me telling my side of the story helps answer some of the questions of the community."

It's been a long five months for 21-year-old University of Arizona graduate Christina Gardilcic.

Now graduated and speaking to us via Skype from her home in Laguna Beach, CA, Gardilcic became a social media and YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons, after being blind-sided by a Tucson Police officer as she attempted to go home after the basketball game.

"That night we were just trying to get to our car in the Tyndall Garage,” she says. "And I had my cell phone out, so I looked down at it and the next thing I know that's when I was hit."

Tucson Police Department has concluded Sgt. Joel Mann used more force than necessary that night and as result faces disciplinary action, all the way up to being terminated.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Federal Bureau of Investigation are both conducting their own investigations.

But as for any civil consequences -- "The fact it happened five months ago and I'm still having to deal with it” -- Gardilcic filed notice of claim this week, paving the way for a $375,000 suit against the city.

That amount is based on compensation awarded in similar cases where excessive force was established.

At this point, we're told the dollar figure remains fluid.

But had the UA senior received any sort of explanation or apology right after this happened, we'd likely be looking at a very different situation today.

“If I had that apology to begin with, I don't think we'd be having this conversation right now,” Gardilcic says. "But since I haven't had that, I think at this point I would just like to see some accountability."

The City of Tucson has 60 days to respond to the claim.

City attorney Mike Rankin says he cannot comment on the claim at this time.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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