TULSA, Okla. (KFOR/AP) – An Oklahoma woman has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Tulsa police officers, the city, and the mayor after she was arrested while having a mental health crisis.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of 70-year-old Ladonna Paris contends that Tulsa officer Ronni Carrocci laughed and threatened Paris with a stun gun before officers broke into a bathroom she had entered.
The Tulsa Police Department gained national headlines after the startling 6-minute video of the incident was released earlier this year.
In October of 2021, Tulsa police were called to a woman who had locked herself in a bathroom.
Officials say they spent several minutes trying to convince Paris to come out of the bathroom, but she refused. At one point, they heard her spraying something and thought she had a lighter.
The officers kicked down the door and took Paris into custody.
Authorities with the Tulsa Police Department say the officers’ actions were within department policies. However, the department said their behavior, including joking and laughing about the situation, could “be received as unprofessional.”
“This is going to be so fun,” said Tulsa officer Ronni Carrocia as they worked to get Paris out of the bathroom.
In the video, Carrocia can be seen laughing while hitting the door handle with her foot and pushing on the door.
“I love my job,” she said.
In the video, officers also acknowledge that Paris was having a mental health episode. Police tried to get Paris out for about 34 minutes. At one point, Carrocia grabs her taser.
“Do you want to get tased?” Carrocia said.
“Do you think this is funny? I’m not laughing,” Paris said in another part of the video.
As police got inside the bathroom and took Paris into custody, she suffered an injury to her face.
Paris was arrested but all charges were dropped due to her mental health status.
“Solomon-Simmons Law has been retained to represent Ms. LaDonna Paris, a 70-year-old- Black great-grandmother and seminary student who was taunted, harassed, and antagonized by Tulsa Police Department officers before they brutalized her while placing her under arrest for behavioral manifestations of a mental health disorder in October 2021. The TPD officers involved were fully aware that Ms. Paris was suffering a bipolar manic episode, yet they still viciously provoked and attacked Ms. Paris while laughing off her disability as if it were a joke. We are disgusted by this outrageous behavior caught on video and the fact that the Tulsa Police Department has attempted to shift the blame for the incident onto the victim of a mental health episode and police brutality. We are even more troubled by the Tulsa Police Department’s frequent practice of ignoring and even outright condoning their officers’ discriminatory treatment and humiliation of, and violence toward, people who suffer from mental health disorders, especially African-Americans. We plan to hold a press conference in the near future so Ms. Paris can speak about her experience and look forward to doing everything in our power to hold the officers involved in the attack and the Tulsa Police Department accountable for their shameful and unlawful, discriminatory actions and to seek justice for Ms. Paris.”DAMARIO SOLOMON SIMMONS March 2022
Paris said she was terrified and felt as if she was watching someone else when seeing video of the arrest.
A city spokesperson declined comment to on the pending litigation.