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Video: Phoenix Police Mock, Violently Arrest Mentally Ill Woman

Officer David Hynes had just helped hog-tie a badly bleeding woman and force her into the back of his patrol car when he turned his bodycam off. After depositing the woman in his vehicle, he walked over to a handful of other Phoenix police officers, one of whom noted they were being recorded across the street. The last thing he said before he shut the camera off for five minutes was, “I hit her ...”

What he meant by that is unclear, and the Phoenix Police Department declined to explain it.

The worrisome half-sentence and inexplicable bodycam shutoff are among the many questionable moments that occur in the footage taken on that March 2019 afternoon.

The next day, the woman Hynes arrested for allegedly resisting arrest, 31-year-old Emily Lopatofsky, was released from jail. She then went missing for six months, sending her family into an emotional tailspin. Lopatofsky is severely mentally ill and has been diagnosed with psychosis and dissociative identity disorder.

Phoenix New Times detailed her disappearance and subsequent recovery last year. Lopatofsky was ultimately found — confused, haggard, and pregnant — nearly 2,000-miles away in a hospital in Cancún, Mexico.

Gladys Jahn, her mother, believes her daughter was trafficked across the border and sexually assaulted on multiple occasions during her disappearance in Mexico. Jahn worked with the U.S. State Department to retrieve her daughter from Cancún. Lopatofsky is now back home in Phoenix, receiving treatment for her mental illness, but she is also facing several criminal charges.

Over the summer, Jahn filed a notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against the city, alleging that a Phoenix police officer’s violent arrest of her daughter caused her to have a psychotic break and disappear.

Four months after New Times first requested it, Phoenix police released the bodycam footage of Lopatofsky’s arrest. The videos show that Lopatofsky was not of sound mind when Phoenix police officers arrested her, and reveal how some Phoenix police officers treat the mentally ill.

While in the grips of what appears to be a dissociative episode, Lopatofsky attempted to wrench a man being handcuffed away from Phoenix police officers, then appeared to kick at the officers during the ensuing scuffle. The officers responded by throwing her to the ground, tying her up, and mocking her on several occasions.

New Times shared the footage of Lopatofsky’s arrest with her mother, who called the videos “heart-wrenching.”

“It was really hard for me to watch,” Jahn said. “Obviously, they could tell she was not in her right state of mind — anyone could see that. When they pulled up at the station, she was face-down on the floor. Why didn’t they transport her to a hospital? Why didn’t they take her to Fourth Avenue Jail? Why did they redact stuff out of the video that was her being injured?”

New Times asked for the body-worn camera footage of Lopatofsky’s arrest from Officer Brian Lilly, who signed the probable cause affidavit. Yet when New Times contacted Phoenix police to inquire about what was seen in the footage, Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, a spokesperson for the department, said “the officer who is wearing the body-worn camera is not Officer Lilly.”

“The officer involved in this incident is Officer Hynes. Officer Lilly and Officer Hynes were partners that day. Officer Hynes was the only officer wearing a body-worn camera,” Fortune said, as the incident occurred “prior to having BWCs for all of our officers.”

Screenshots from Lopatofsky's arrestEXPAND
Screenshots from Lopatofsky's arrest
Photos from the Phoenix police department

The arrest

On March 31, Lopatofsky stood beside two men in the parking lot near Section Hair Studio on McDowell Road and Third Street. She was wearing a white sundress and furry slippers.

Just before 1 p.m. on that Sunday, someone inside one of the buildings at 325 East McDowell Road called Phoenix police and asked them to remove Lopatofsky and the two men from the property, according to police reports.

As the first video begins, Officers Hynes and Lilly pull into the parking lot and exit their vehicle. “What’s going on?” one says as they approach the two men and Lopatofsky, who is leaning on a car under a palm tree in the lot.

“We’re moving out right now, sorry,” one man says.

“You guys got IDs on you?” Hynes asks. The man says he doesn’t have it on him, so Hynes asks for his name instead. Lopatofsky can be heard off-camera talking about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Lopatofsky is prone to hyper-religious ramblings when agitated, a 2018 psychiatric assessment obtained by New Times states. Back then, she arrived at an emergency room, having been taken there by police. The assessment said the woman was suffering from “psychosis (initially grandiose, hyper-religious, claiming she was talking to God and that St. Nick wanted her to cut her own throat).”

The man supplies Officer Hynes with his name, at which point the audio briefly cuts out due to redaction by Phoenix police.

The audio returns as Hynes turns briefly toward Lopatofsky, who is now sitting under the palm tree and asking Lilly, “Are you sinners or are you saints?”

Hynes turns back to the man with the warrant and asks how he knows the others. The man states that he met Lopatofsky the day before.

Lopatosky refers to the man being questioned as “Jesus” and states loudly, “I am the grace of God.”

“You sound like you’re on meth right now,” Hynes mutters in response to Lopatofsky’s ravings. Hynes does not turn toward her or appear otherwise concerned and continues to face straight ahead at the man he is speaking with in the footage.

“Yeah? You sound like you’re talking to the grace of God,” Lopatofsky replies.

The man speaking with Hynes continues to cooperate with police and tells the officers that Lopatofsky is staying at transitional housing. Hynes and Lilly take notes and run their information. The second man can be seen in the background collecting his property. Lopatofsky continues to rant.

“Take your gun out and shoot me in the head, prove me wrong, that’s a command,” Lopatofsky says. “Thanks God. So I’m going to reward your last words said that man said —”

“That’s great, because your words are being recorded right now,” Hynes says, seemingly mishearing Lopatofsky, who had said “reward,” not “record.”

“These are my chosen whites,” Lopatofsky says in an apparent reference to her white clothing.

Hynes laughs at her in response.

“So you think you’re above God, do you?” Lopatofsky asks, sitting cross-legged under the tree.

Hynes says nothing. He turns back to the man he was speaking with.

“This one? Cochran?” he says, approaching the man, who had a warrant.

“No!” Lopatofsky suddenly yells. The officers tell her to stay back as he grabs the man’s hands to handcuff him.

“I’m not going to let you hurt Jesus Christ!” she yells. She then seizes the man by the shoulders just as officers pull his hands behind his back. Everyone, including the man with the warrant, tells Lopatofsky to stop.

Hynes grabs Lopatofsky’s arm and yanks her off the man. But she continues to cling onto the man’s T-shirt. Lilly grabs her by the back of the neck and throws her to the ground.

She lands on her back and appears to try to kick the officers away from her. Hynes continues to hold onto her wrist. Lopatofsky continues to yell about God. One of the officers can be heard telling her she’s under arrest, and that video cuts out with Lopatofsky on the ground, breathing heavily.

The next video begins without sound, since it takes a few minutes for the audio to kick in when Axon body cameras are turned back on.

It is one minute and 13 seconds after the last video cut-out. Lilly appears to be standing over Lopatofsky, who is blurred out but on the ground. The man is also sitting on the ground, handcuffed. Another officer arrives at the lot and exits his vehicle.

Police pick Lopatofsky up and wrench her arms behind her back. The top half of her body is leaning forward. The audio comes back on and Hynes can be heard saying, “[Don’t] kick me!”

“Like an unholy traitor, I will not be a part of this!” Lopatofsky yells. She is barefoot, and police appear to be struggling to drag her to one of their vehicles. The camera cuts out again.

The next video starts about 40 seconds later, and police have dragged Lopatofsky over to one of their vehicles. Hynes opens the door and yells, “Get in the car!” but Lopatofsky kicks it closed. She curses and puts her legs on the car in an attempt to keep the door closed. “Stop resisting!” Hynes says, as her leg slides down and he opens the door again.

As they push Lopatofsky into the car, what is happening can no longer be made out on video. Phoenix police blurred Lopatofsky to the point where what is occurring in the video is indistinguishable.

Lopatofsky continues to yell about God as Hynes again yells at her to get in the car. He and another officer attempt to push her in.

A horrible cracking sound can be heard. Then, Lopatofsky is on the ground, screaming “ow” over and over again.

“Stand up and get in the car!” Hynes yells, then asks the other officers to help get her into the car.

Lopatofsky, on the ground and still blurred out, continues to scream in pain. “Why are you ripping me to pieces?” she cries. It appears another officer is holding her head down against the pavement.

Additional officers arrive with RIPP restraints, which are black, belt-like restraints used by law enforcement to restrict a detainee’s movement.

Hynes and the other officer pick Lopatofsky up again. “You gonna get in the car now?” Hynes asks as Lopatofsky continues to scream. She is handcuffed by her wrists.

Police again force Lopatofsky into the car. She remains blurred out, but appears to be partially in the vehicle when Hynes says, “If you don’t get in, we’re going to have to use force, you understand that?”

“I am God and you are now below me,” Lopatofsky responds.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Hynes says. Another officer grabs her leg. Lopatofsky begins to scream again. They pull her out of the car. It’s still almost impossible to discern exactly what is happening, as Lopatofsky’s entire body is blurred out.

“I love you guys, please stop hurting me!” Lopatofsky yells.

“Get in the car!” Hynes shouts back.

Lopatofsky gets in the car, but appears to be trying to stand. Hynes walks around to the other side of the car, and another Phoenix police officer says, “I don’t know how this is gonna fucking work. We gotta get her back onto the ground and fucking tie her up.”

Hynes goes back around the other side of the vehicle as two other officers pull Lopatofsky out of the car. “Someone get a goddamn RIPP,” one officer yells.

“Please!” Lopatofsky yells as four Phoenix police officers force her to the ground and begin to tie her up.

“What is the matter with you?” one officer mutters as he ties her ankles together. Lopatofsky breathes heavily and begins to count backward from three. The officers lift her up again and she shouts “ow” and “no” repeatedly as they hoist her headfirst into the car, her ankles and wrists bound and tied to each other.

Hynes walks away from the vehicle and toward two other Phoenix police officers standing nearby.

“We’re all on film just FYI, across the street,” one officer says.

“I hit her —” Hynes says, then his bodycam footage cuts off. The next five minutes go unrecorded.

Emily Lopatofsky's injuries.EXPAND
Emily Lopatofsky's injuries.
Gladys Jahn

Booked

When Hynes turns on his bodycam again, there is no audio at first. Lopatofsky is bound and inside the patrol vehicle. There are five Phoenix police cars and at least eight officers in the parking lot.

As the audio returns, Hynes has walked over to three other officers who are standing near a patrol car.

“Sam, fucking unlock your shit,” one officer says, pointing at the computer inside the vehicle.

“Cameras on again?” another officer asks Hynes as confirmation that his bodycam is back on.

“Yeah,” he replies. Hynes then opens up the back door of the patrol vehicle and reads the man who had a warrant his Miranda rights. He then asks the man to tell him what he saw.

“Well, two officers came up. Said I had a warrant, told me to put my hands behind my back, I did. She came up and said, ‘Hey you’re not arresting Jesus, you’re not hurting Jesus,’ something like that,” the man says. “Then I said, ‘Emmy don’t do it, stay away, mind your business, stay away.’ Then she came up and grabbed my shirt and tried to yank me away from them.”

“Ok,” Hynes says. “Did you see her physically resisting our arrest?”

“Yeah,” the man says.

“How did she physically resist our arrest?” Hynes presses.

“She just refused to let go of me and get out of the way, she wouldn’t be quiet,” the man replies.

“Okay. Did you hear me tell her stop resisting?” Hynes asks in what appears to be an attempt to get the man’s statement to corroborate some of the charges he later submitted against Lopatofsky.

“Yes I did, sir.”

“Did you hear me tell her put her hands behind her back?” Hynes asks.

“Yes.”

“At any point did she comply with my lawful orders?” Hynes asks.

“No.”

“Did you see how we got her into the patrol car?”

“Yes,” the man replies.

“How did we do that?” Hynes asks.

“You carried her, two or three of you.”

Hynes thanks the man, then walks away and turns off his body-worn camera again.

Nine minutes later, the camera comes back on. Hynes sips from his water bottle and looks at Lopatofsky’s driver’s license. The audio kicks in, and Lopatofsky can again be heard talking to herself. Hynes gets out and looks in the window where Lopatofsky’s head is facing.

“What are you saying?” he says as he looks down at her. Hynes then walks around the other side and looks at Lopatofsky again as she calls herself “Loki the fire god.”

“What did you say?” Hynes scoffs, peering down at Lopatofsky, who is bound and laying on the floor of the vehicle. Her shoulder is bleeding badly.

“My name is Loki, my brother sent me in,” Lopatofsky says, breathing heavily. “Tell them you’re Grace! I’m Grace, no — Grace died. This is Loki! Loki, remember that guillotine I put in that door? Yeah, so that blood could bleed down and that fire could burn baby.”

Hynes gets back into the driver’s seat. The video cuts out again. Twenty seconds later, it turns back on. Hynes is driving; Lopatofsky is still raving.

At one point during the drive, a female officer pulls her vehicle alongside Hynes’ and asks, “Hey you guys are going straight to Fourth Ave. [jail] right?” Hynes and Lilly say no. “Why?” the female officer asks.

“Station,” Hynes says.

“Why would you go to station? Go straight to Fourth Ave.,” the female officer says. Hynes begins to roll up this window.

“Our boss,” Hynes says, then rolls up the window and drives away. Moments later, Hynes gets a phone call. He appears annoyed. “Hello? Yes. Correct. Correct. Correct. Um, I appreciate your assistance in this investigation. Thank you, but, goodbye,” Hynes says, then hangs up.

Hynes pulls up to the station and gets out of the vehicle. He opens the door and asks Lopatofsky if she’s all right. She is subdued, tied up on the floor, and quiet. Her personality has changed, and she appears docile, scared, and confused.

“Are you gonna be cool with us?” Hynes asks. “You’re not gonna kick us anymore are you?”

“What?” Lopatofsky says. “Why would I kick you?”

Hynes walks around to the other side of the vehicle and loosens her ankle restraints. A female officer arrives and helps Lopatofsky out of the vehicle. They stand her up and walk her into the station, then lead her toward a cell. A female officer pats Lopatofsky down.

“Mom, I still love you. She’d do anything for her kids. Would you give me a kiss?” Lopatofsky says to the female officer.

“What’d you say?” Hynes says.

“I said would you give me a kiss?” Lopatofsky says.

“Give her a kiss?” Hynes snaps.

“That’s what she said,” the female officer states, seemingly trying to brush Lopatofsky’s comment off and move things along.

“If you’d do anything for me you’d give me a kiss right now,” Lopatofsky says, appearing to still be referring to her mother.

“I don’t think anyone wants to kiss you right now,” Hynes says.

“Fingers?” The female officer asks. “Two fingers? While we have it?” It’s not at all clear what she means by that.

“No,” another officer says. They place Lopatofsky in a cell. Then, the camera cuts out.

Photo digitally altered by Lindsey Kelly
Photo digitally altered by Lindsey Kelly
Getty images

Aftermath

Phoenix police did not respond when asked when Hynes checked Lopatofsky’s record, or what “Fingers? Two fingers? While we have it?” meant. It’s unclear when, if ever, Phoenix police ran a background check on Lopatofsky.

Phoenix police did not respond when asked about the department’s standards for treating detainees, particularly severely mentally ill ones, or whether telling the handcuffed and bleeding woman “I don’t think anyone wants to kiss you” meets department policy. Police did not respond when asked why Hynes transported Lopatofsky to the station instead of the Fourth Avenue Jail. They didn’t respond when asked why Hynes’ camera turns off five times throughout the arrest and transport of Lopatofsky, or why certain portions of the video were blurred out.

All department spokesperson Fortune would say is that “Lopatofsky was arrested when she physically pulled a male away from both officers while they tried to arrest him for outstanding felony warrants. Officers and the male repeatedly told Lopatofsky to let go and to walk away. Lopatofsky refused and kicked and struck officers and that is why she was arrested.”

Fortune said an internal investigation into the incident had been conducted, and that both Hynes’ and Lilly’s actions that day met policy. “No additional information can be provided at this time due to pending litigation,” Fortune said.

New Times has requested a copy of the internal investigation to see to what extent Lilly’s and Hynes’ actions were investigated, but has yet to receive it.

In the probable cause statement for Lopatofsky’s arrest, Lilly wrote that he had “a small laceration on [his] elbow” from his altercation with Lopatofsky and requested Lopatofsky be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, a felony. She spent the night in jail. Then she vanished.

It was unusual for Jahn not to be able to get a hold of her daughter, and when she visited the transitional living home where Lopatofsky was living, staff said they hadn’t seen her. Jahn reported her daughter missing and spent months trying to get law enforcement to help track her daughter down.

Eventually, Jahn began receiving phone calls from odd numbers. The callers would say they had her daughter, that she was in Mexico, and that if Jahn wanted to see her again, she would have to send money. Jahn contacted the State Department, and eventually they found Lopatofsky after she turned up at a hospital in Cancún.

During her absence, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged Lopatofsky with two counts of felony aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

The court case remains ongoing, and Lopatofsky still has a long road of legal and health problems to navigate.
A February 25, 2019, court-ordered psychiatric assessment of Lopatofsky shared with New Times shows she stated in 2017 that she sees no reason to live, and that she had attempted suicide three times in the past year. She has been in and out of mental health treatment facilities, primarily because she repeatedly checks herself out against doctors’ orders.

The family has been drained financially from years of paying Lopatofsky’s hospital and legal bills, not to mention the recent trip to Mexico, extended detention in Houston, and cost of legally adopting Lopatofsky’s young daughter. Lopatofsky’s current pregnancy will incur additional expenses.

The family is hopeful the charges against Lopatofsky in Maricopa County may be dismissed.

“They treated her like she was less than human,” Jahn said after seeing the videos. “Like she was nothing more than a hog tied in a car. They made fun of her. Phoenix police don’t know how to deal with the mentally ill, and this is the result.”

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