• An Arizona woman said she was falsely accused of a hit-and-run accident and wrongly arrested by Scottsdale police last year
  • Footage allegedly showed that police refused to review any evidence that would have proven her location at the time
  • Scottsdale police launched an internal affairs investigation into the incident this week

An Arizona woman wants to clear her name more than a year after she was allegedly wrongly arrested for a hit-and-run in the city of Scottsdale.

In an interview with ABC15, Yessenia Garcia said Scottsdale Police Department officers arrested her for a hit-and-run accident in Scottsdale’s Old Town district on May 24, 2020. She told the outlet police allegedly repeatedly called her a liar and overlooked clear video evidence of her innocence before handcuffing her for a crime she didn't commit.

During that time, a man accused of assaulting another patron in a nightclub was allegedly hit by a car as he attempted to flee the scene of his own alleged crime, New York Daily News reported.

Garcia was arrested on suspicion of two counts of DUI and failure to stop at the scene of an accident after police found her car damaged in a downtown parking spot. The case ended when charges against her were dropped.

Garcia said during her interview with ABC15 that she wanted to “clear my name” and to “[let people know:] don’t believe everything, um, you have no idea what the person in that mugshot really just went through.”

According to Garcia, she and her then-boyfriend — unaware a hit-and-run had just occurred — had sought help from police after discovering that her vehicle’s front windshield was badly damaged when they left the second of two bars where they’d met with friends that night.

However, officers at the scene immediately questioned Garcia’s involvement in a hit-and-run 0.3 miles away and refused to review any evidence that would have proven her location at the time, as indicated in a transcript of her interview with police obtained by ABC15.

One of the officers read Garcia her Miranda rights and told her not to act like she was not aware of what he was talking about.

Garcia and her boyfriend urged the officer to speak with bouncers at the bar and offered to show proof of transactions. However, police accused Garcia of lying and insisted she left the bar, got into a collision, then panicked and returned the car to its parking spot.

Garcia was compliant throughout the process, body camera videos shows.

Surveillance video was later obtained by Garcia's attorney Ryan Tait showing that the vehicle was never moved from the parking space during the incident. Footage also showed a stranger hopping on the hood of Garcia’s vehicle and stomping on the windshield multiple times, explaining the damage.

The lawyer then received an email from Scottsdale police saying they would no longer pursue the charges. But by that time, Garcia's mugshot had already been widely circulated online.

Garcia had filed a lawsuit against the department earlier this year but withdrew it after attorneys told her that the qualified immunity protecting police officers would be “too difficult…to make it financially viable.”

A spokesperson for the Scottsdale Police Department told the New York Daily News in a statement that police chief Jeff Walther has asked for a formal internal affairs investigation of the entire incident after receiving an inquiry about Garcia’s arrest. “The results of this investigation will be made public,” the statement said.

The statement also included assurance from the chief that he was taking the matter seriously. “I have, among other things, focused on transparency, communication and accountability,” Walther stated. “I take these matters very seriously and a thorough, formal investigation into this incident will be conducted.”

Representation. A gavel. Pixabay