Prom night turns violent after Gilbert police officer pulls over teen’s vehicle

A family of a Gilbert teen is pursuing legal action after a cop's takedown of her at a routine traffic stop went south.
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 6:44 PM MST
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GILBERT (3TV/CBS 5) - Prom night for one Valley teen turned violent after she was pulled over for reportedly speeding and running a red light. Body camera video shows a Gilbert police officer pulling the 17-year-old girl out of her car and onto the ground. The attorney representing the teen said the officer used excessive force.

“The officer is extremely upset, he is extremely emotional, he is extremely angry. And he doesn’t act reasonably as a result,” said attorney Jesse Showalter. The girl was driving home from her high school prom with friends on April 24. We are not identifying the teen because she was a minor. Officer Nathan Martin said the teen was driving 20 miles over the speed limit and weaving in and out of traffic.

He reportedly believed the driver was under the influence. Martin’s body camera video shows him approaching the car after he pulls the teen over. He immediately yells at her, “Yo, hands out the window. Hands out the f***ing window.” You do not hear the officer ask for her license or registration. He then asks her to get out of the car. “He immediately, without any need, begins using physical force begins ripping a 17-year-old girl out of a car and throwing her to the ground. That was completely unnecessary,” said Showalter.

In the video, you can see Martin then reach through the rolled-down window and open the car door. He asks her to get out of the car again. She eventually unbuckles her seat belt. That is when Officer Martin grabs her wrist, and they struggle for a while. He then pulls her out of the car by her arm. While she is screaming and crying, he gets her to the ground and handcuffs her. “You are under arrest for failure to obey,” said Officer Martin.

The officer arrested the teen for resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer, speeding, and reckless driving. Showalter said the girl is still traumatized from the experience. “It was a horribly traumatic experience to have a government agent rip her out of a car, throw her to the ground, when all this was about a routine traffic stop for a moving violation,” said Showalter.

The Gilbert Police Department’s investigation shows Martin has been “exonerated on allegation of improper force.” However, he did get a 20-hour suspension for “profane language and gestures” and “unsatisfactory performance.” The family of the teen is now taking legal action and filed a claim against the Town of Gilbert.

“What the girl and her family want is that the town actually addresses this, holds the officer accountable, and make sure incidents like this doesn’t happen again,” said Showalter. Arizona’s Family reached out to the Gilbert Police Department who said they can’t comment on pending litigation but added “all uses of force are formally reviewed to ensure employees are following policy and guidelines set by the department.”