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<br />Search for cell phone video underway in Yates case

Attorney Robert Spence said an intensive search is underway for more cell phone video and eyewitnesses accounts of the controversial arrest of Veronica Yates on April 17. by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Attorney Robert Spence said an intensive search is underway for more cell phone video and eyewitnesses accounts of the controversial arrest of Veronica Yates on April 17 and that a lawsuit is being explored against the Memphis Police Department.

 Veronica Yates
 Veronica Yates

Yates is the wife of Mark Yates, who on Wednesday turned down his appointment to chair the Economic Development Growth Engine.

“There is a widespread search being conducted now with investigators not only attempting to locate cell phone footage but also witnesses who saw the incident, including several who interceded on Mrs. Yates’s behalf,” Spence told the Tri-State Defender on Wednesday.

Veronica Yates was charged with aggravated assault at arraignment Monday. An onlooker’s video of Yates’ arrest by MPD Officer Brian Falatko has stirred some public pushback. Falatko is shown carrying Veronica Yates by her pants after yanking her from her car.  The car continued to roll forward as Falatko dispatched Yates to the ground and handcuffed her.  

Spence said there is a one-year window to file for damages.  

“Mrs. Yates has been mentally and psychologically traumatized by this incident.  It’s just the worst thing imaginable to be yanked from your motor vehicle by your crotch, manhandled and beaten down in the street, your husband arrested (for coming to your protection) and to have your children witness it is extreme emotional trauma.”

Not shown on tape, Mark Yates rushed to his wife’s aid from a nearby location after she was placed in the police car. Yates was arrested and charged after he tried to open the door of the car, according to police. He was issued a misdemeanor citation and is to appear in court at a later date.  Spence said no determination has been made on whether any potential suit will be filed jointly.

Falatko is the MPD 2010 Officer of the Year. A website comment from a TSD reader captures the sentiment of some following the case.

“Officer training does not teach police to deal with a non-threatening disobedient traffic violator in the same way you deal with an armed and dangerous gang-banger,” was the website post.

Spence said the officer’s record is under examination  “and what we have learned to date is troubling, just leave it at that.”  

MPD made a big splash when it purchased Skywatch Mobile Surveillance back in 2007, but it was not known at press time whether a unit was deployed.  

Spence said the defense team is “seeking all departmental video evidence that is available to us as well.”

A great many citizens and officers queried have commented that something must have pushed an officer of Falatko’s caliber over the edge.

“That’s why when I’m working crowd control I have people stop way back from me,” said one officer.

What if video evidence shows that Mrs. Yates did ignore the officer’s command and proceeded forward, making her car a dangerous weapon.

“It’s not going to show that,” said Spence.

“We already know that he fabricated the incident. That has already been determined and proved. We are just gathering more evidence (to prove it).”

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