Phoenix Woman Files $625,000 Claim Notice Against City After Arrest Left Her With A Fractured Skull

| by Jared Keever

A Phoenix, Arizona woman has filed $625,000 notice of claim against the city’s police department and various city officials, saying she was the victim of excessive force during an arrest in which she suffered a skull fracture. 

The Associated Press reports Martha “Marti” Winkler filed the notice — which is considered a precursor to a lawsuit — as the result of a July 16 arrest outside a convenience store where she was trying to buy lottery tickets. 

That it happened outside of a convenience store is about the only thing the 56-year-old grandmother and the arresting officer can agree on. 

The Arizona Republic reports that police officer Jason Gillespie’s arrest report from the incident asserts Winkler was defiant as he tried to arrest her and that she twisted her body so much they both lost their balance and she fell in the parking lot, striking her head.

Gillespie had been called to the store by Winkler, who thought the convenience store clerk had improperly charged her for a lottery ticket purchase. 

Winkler’s notice claims Gillespie arrived at the scene and only spent a brief period of time in the store before coming out and telling Winkler she was under arrest for trespassing. 

Gillespie “twisted her body around and jerked her arms behind her back. She thought her forearms were going to snap. Marti felt herself being pushed forward,” Winkler’s notice reads. 

She maintains the clerks never told her she was trespassing and never asked her to leave. She said in a recent interview with The Arizona Republic she never physically or verbally threatened the officer. 

Winkler says she remembers very little from the incident other than waking up in the hospital with a black eye, a one-inch cut on her forehead, nasal and eye socket fractures and an occipital skull fracture. Her attorney, Tim Casey, says the injuries are particularly disturbing because they indicate two distinct blows to the head. 

“I've got a woman who is a 5 foot 6, 125- to 140-pound grandmother,” Casey said. “Even if you assume trespassing, and even if you assume resisting, how in the heck could that level of force be reasonable and appropriate?”

Gillespie’s report claims he swung Winkler’s body to pull her out of the path of oncoming traffic and that was what caused her to lose balance. 

State prosecutors declined to file charges against Winkler for resisting arrest. They left trespassing charges up to Phoenix city prosecutors. 

Winkler’s notice claims excessive use of force and false arrest and imprisonment. It names Gillespie, the City of Phoenix, acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner and Mayor Greg Stanton as defendants.

The notice will progress to a lawsuit if a settlement is not reached. 

Citing pending litigation, those named in the notice declined to comment. 

Sources: Arizona Daily Sun (AP Story)The Arizona Republic / Photo Credit: The Arizona Republic courtesy of Martha Winkler