Battered: Megan Graham, 36, suffered black and blue bruises to her face and sustained a concussion following an altercation with a police officer
A Washington woman suffering from mental and hearing disabilities was left with severe bruises on her face after she claims an officer punched over and over her because she could not understand his orders. Megan Graham, 36, of Federal Way, dialed 911 while being arrested last Monday to complain about police brutality after being pulled over by an officer and hit in the face.
Things quickly spiraled out of control during Graham's run-in with police officers, whom the 36-year-old disabled woman had accused of hitting her several times in the face while attempting to restrain her.
The Federal Way Police Department, however, insists that it was Graham who was violent and disorderly. The 36-year-old woman now faces a felony assault on an officer charge. She is set to be arraigned June 10. It all started at around 7.15pm last Monday when Graham pulled into the parking lot of Forest Cove Apartments, where her friend lives. Moments after the woman stopped the car, a police cruiser drove up behind her with its lights flashing.
Graham was under the impression that the officer spotted her using her cell phone while driving. Police records indicate that Officer Justin Antholt approached Graham and asked for her license and registration. Graham showed the officer her license, along with an expired insurance card.
In an interview with the station KIRO-TV
, Graham, her face still black and blue and swollen, said that she got out of the car, told the officer she was just going to carry her dog to her friend's unit and offered him to accompany her.
According to Graham, because Officer Antholt was speaking to her from his car with its engine running, she never heard him order her to get back into her vehicle. In the next moment, Graham said the officer lunged at her and grabbed her wrist. 'I pulled my arm back, grabbed my phone and called 911 to call for help,' she said. 'I told the officer I had mental and hearing disabilities, and didn't understand why he was trying to hurt me.'
In the recording of the 911 call obtained by the paper Federal Way Mirror
, the 36-year-old woman is heard telling the dispatcher that she is being attacked and asking for help. 'How dare you even touch me,' she told the officer on the call, which captured the officer's voice repeatedly telling Graham 'You are under arrest,' 'put your hands behind your back' and 'stop resisting.'
A second officer, identified as Ashley Crispin, arrived on the scene a short time later and, assisted by the first officer, wrestled the woman to the ground.
'I could taste the blood going into the back of my sinuses,' she said. 'Once I was on the ground, I was hurt. ... All of a sudden there's all these cops on top of me pushing my face in the ground. ... It was just so unbelievably horrific and upsetting.'
Graham said the second officer punched her in the face three times, and one of the cops also threatened to use a Taser on her while she was pinned to the ground.
'It was horrible. I just didn't understand any of it,' said Graham. 'I told him about my condition. Punching me over and over in the eye is obviously excessive force. He could have handled it a lot differently.'
Federal Way police, however, offered a different version of events, claiming that when an officer approached Graham to arrest her, she clenched her fists, took a fighter's stance and tried to strike the cop.
In a photo provided by the police department and posted on the FoxNews.com
, Antholt is seen showing what was described as a scratch mark on his cheek, which he allegedly sustained during his confrontation with Graham.
Graham's friend Deborah Fenwick said she witnessed the incident and insists that the disabled woman was not resisting arrest.
'That woman doesn't have a violent bone in her body,' Fenwick said. 'She's got a heart of gold. If she would have understood the officer's commands in the first place, she would have absolutely complied with him.'
Graham said that besides the bruises to her face, she also suffered a concussion. The Federal Way police are currently reviewing her complaint regarding excessive use of force.