TPD Officer Takedown Update: Reports, interviews give more details
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The officer takedown outside a midtown restaurant happened two months ago in the parking lot of Culinary Dropout.
The off-duty officer is caught on cam pinning down two women after a heated confrontation.
Robert Szelewski held down two women while the other woman involved captured it on camera. But it’s just a snippet of the entire situation.
The women came forward giving their accounts of what happened. Now we’re learning more.
It’s important to note, at critical points in the confrontation, it’s a case of “he said, she said.” Nothing we can see that’s conclusive, but the new elements help to paint a better picture of what went down that day.
It’s never before seen accounts of what happened before and after the officer takedown.
Security footage outside the building helps set the stage.
Michelle Aloisi and her two daughters, Nicole Whitted and Brittney Aloisi-Wiles, are seen walking across the parking lot.
Officer Robert Szelewski, who was running late, drove into the parking lot.
All three women told police Michelle Aloisi has “bad legs and walks very slowly.”
At the scene, Nicole told police, “He was very intimidatingly speeding in.”
“We jumped on the side and I went (raise arms up) like this to him,” Aloisi-Wiles said.
Police talked to Szelewski’s wife, who was in the car that day with their three children. She told an officer that he “pulled in faster than normal, but did not have to slam their brakes to avoid anyone.”
“I slow down because they’re in the middle and the one in the camo turns, and she’s like “What the f***.’ I’m like, ‘Move, walk get out of the middle of the parking lot. I’m trying to park,’” Szelewski said.
The officer who reviewed the security footage wrote in the police report that the car “does slow down and appears to stay approximately 2 parking space widths away from the females” passes the women with “approximately 5-6 foot clearance” and the “speed did not appear excessive.”
“So I go in and park,” Szelewski said.
And this is where things get tricky. Security footage shows all three women approach Szelewsk as he stepped out of his car.
“We’re about to get out to go in, thinking they’re walking to the car over here. And they’re approaching over here and yelling at me. So I’m like ‘what the hell is your problem?’” Szelewski said.
Video shows one woman “raising her arms appearing to exchange words” with Szelewski, as stated in the police report.
But the women claim Szelewski started the confrontation, not them.
Whitted said Szelewski jumped out of his car and told them to “f****** walk.” Szelewski said he told them to move out of the way.
“I’m like we have the right of way, what is wrong with you,” Whitted argued.
An officer wrote “It is not clear if the driver made any motions/gestures towards the females from this video”, but is “towards the back end” of the car.
Video shows Brittany Aloisi-Wiles suddenly rushed in towards him.
“I get in and go ‘what are you going to do. We’re crossing the street. I literally, I’m not going to touch you, I went this far,’” Aloisi-Wiles said.
The women claim Szelewski then “chest bumped” Aloisi-Wiles. He not only denies that, he claims she was the aggressor. And when she rushed in, she chest bumped him.
“She gets into me and she goes, ‘oh you’re going to do something about it, you’re going to do something,’ and goes boom and chest bumps me and pushes me. So I, boom, take her down,” Szelewski said.
That takedown happened, Aloisi-Wiles said, when he grabbed her by her head and forced her to the ground.
“And I’m like, ‘You’re under arrest. Police officer. You just assaulted a police officer,’” Szelewski said.
But according to the women, he never identified himself as an officer.
“Even if it’s an officer you don’t just attack someone,” Whitted said.
Michelle Aloisi told police she was “not sure why the girls didn’t just round the parking lot corner and go to their cars. Angry, trying to prove a point, bad choice.”
Seeing her daughter on the ground, Aloisi reacted quickly.
“I went up to him and said, ‘Get off her’ and I tried to pull him,” she said.
Brittany Aloisi-Wiles yelled to “Call the cops,” to which Szelewski yelled back: “I am a cop.”
Nicole Whitted called 911 and hit record on her cell phone.
“This man is on top of my mother and my sister screaming at them to get their hands behind their back. He attacked them,” she can be heard screaming in the video.
Then enters a good Samaritan, a witness in the investigation. He thought someone was in medical distress and suggests Szelewski let the women up.
In the cell video, he’s shown refusing.
“No, I’m not because they already assaulted me so we’re not getting up until I get other units,” he’s recorded as saying.
The good Samaritan asked for proof that Szelewski is indeed a cop and Szelewski gave the man his ID. He later told an investigating officer that he asked Szelewski how he could help.
“He said, you know, ‘I need help restraining them,’ and I still feel uncomfortable because I’m not a police officer,” he said.
Aloisi-Wiles told officers Szelewski put “pressure on her neck” and used his left knee to pin her down, but the good Samaritan didn’t witness that in his account to the detective.
“He was face down more or less applying pressure to her back, holding both in check with his knee between the left shoulder and the neck in this area of the brunette to hold her down,” he said.
And by Aloisi-Wiles’ own admission, her breathing was not restricted.
At times, Szelewski temperament seemed to be in question, like when he barked orders to his wife.
Good Samaritan asked Szelewski twice if he could let Aloisi-Wiles off the ground and make sure she stays at the scene. The second time, Szelewski released her and the good Samaritan helped her up.
Despite that exchange, the good Samaritan describes Szelewski as being “very agreeable”.
“Seemed like there was a lot of emotion. To his credit, the officer was vastly more calm than they were. They were incredibly irate and hysterical,” he said.
But minutes turned into hours while police investigated the takedown in the parking lot. And as the sun began to set, a detective finally pulled Aloisi-Wiles aside to give her the outcome of their investigation.
She was told Szelewski will undergo an internal affairs investigation, but she’s being cited for disorderly conduct because she became the aggressor.
“I don’t feel like I was hyper aggressive. I feel he became hyper aggressive towards my sister,” she responded to the detective.
But the detective explained that it became a crime when she rushed past her sister and got in front of Szelewski.
“She was about 6 to 8 feet away, when you went around her and got face-to-face with him,” he said.
That constitutes a crime, disorderly conduct, when anyone disrupts another person’s peace.
And the detective told her Szelewski acted as a police officer, meaning he followed protocol when she crossed that proverbial line in the sand.
KOLD requested Szelewski’s personnel records less than a week ago, they haven’t been released yet.
The case is still active.
The TPD internal affairs review is continuing and it’s sitting in the Pima County Attorney’s office undergoing a criminal review.
The police chief says the results on both are probably a few weeks out.
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