Police in west suburban Aurora on Sunday night released dashcam footage of an arrest in which officers pulled a Black man and woman from a vehicle, both screaming and the woman shouting that she couldn't breathe, after an altercation that escalated when the woman refused to give officers her birth date.
Police said in a statement on the more than 20-minute video that it was being released along with the full narrative of the police report "in an effort to tell the entire story" after a 2 minute and 38 second video had been "widely posted on social media."
"The video posted on social media only shows a short portion of the traffic stop and doesn’t provide any information about what happened," the statement from Aurora police reads. "Unfortunately, people have rushed to judge the incident without having all the facts."
"In an effort to tell the entire story, the Aurora Police Department is releasing a narrative of the incident and the dash camera video of what happened," the statement continued.
The incident began just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday when an officer saw a white Chevrolet Malibu stopped with the passenger door open at a red light at New York Street and Eola Road, Aurora police said in a statement.
Authorities said the officer then saw the door close and the man and woman inside "engaged in what appeared to be a physical altercation… striking one another with their hands and forearms."
Police identified the male driver as 22-year-old Jajuan Mitchell-Lomax, of the 1700 block of Rebecca Lane in Aurora, and the female passenger as 22-year-old Alexus Ward, of the 1600 block of 17th Avenue in Maywood.
Mitchell-Lomax was charged with one felony count of aggravated resisting, charges that were upgraded because of injuries an Aurora police officer sustained during the incident, officials said. He was also cited for failing to use his turn signal, according to police.
Ward was charged with one misdemeanor count of obstructing identification and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, according to a statement from Aurora police. Attorney information for both was not immediately available.
Police said that after the officer saw what he believed to be the two fighting, he followed the car as the light turned green and pulled it over. The officer said he saw Ward in the passenger seat "breathing heavily with tears in her eyes," police said in a statement, and the officer can be heard on the dashcam video asking them what was going on and if everyone was okay.
The video shows that the officer ran Mitchell-Lomax's license and then asked Ward for her name and birth date, which the two resisted revealing.
Aurora police said in a statement that because the officer was investigating a crime, in this case an alleged battery, he was allowed to demand the name and identification of anyone involved.
A second officer approaches the scene, standing at the passenger side of the car as the first officer asks him to try and get Ward's name and birth date. That second officer opens the passenger door, at which point both Ward and Mitchell-Lomax can be heard telling the officers to close the door, saying the police had no right to open it.
Mitchell-Lomax can be heard on the video screaming profanities as he repeatedly requested that the officers close the door, while Ward continued to refuse to give her date of birth. Aurora police said Ward gave the officer a fake name, which he called into the dispatch center as the verbal altercation continued.
"You have no probable cause. Just because you're white, that's not probable cause," Ward can be heard yelling, to which the officer responds, "Oh really? You're gonna pull that? That's real nice."
"So I'm a racist is what you're saying. That's really nice," the officer continues. "So I'm here trying to help you guys and you're saying I'm a racist."
The arrest unfolded less than two weeks after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, during which an officer was captured on video kneeling into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out that he couldn't breathe. Floyd's death has sparked protests around the world, including several in Chicago, calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
The officer requested more assistance at the scene, at which point a third officer arrived. Police said the officers attempted to ask for Ward's name and birth date for nearly eight minutes.
The first officer who pulled the car over eventually told Ward to step out of the car as a fourth officer walks up to the scene, the video shows. She continues to refuse, saying the two were not previously fighting and yelling repeatedly, "Don't touch me" and "Get off of me" as two officers attempt to physically extract her from the vehicle, announcing that she was under arrest.
The interior of the car is not visible on the dashcam footage. Aurora police said in a statement that as the officers attempted to unbuckle Ward's seatbelt, Mitchell-Lomax blocked the release button with his hand before one of the officers was able to press it.
Mitchell-Lomax then "grasped the seatbelt and refused to let go," according to police, at which point the two other officers on the driver's side began to pull him out of the car as well. Police ultimately pulled both Mitchell-Lomax and Ward out of the car and pinned them to the ground on either side of the vehicle.
Police said Mitchell-Lomax swung his arms as he was being removed and struck one of the officers in the chin, then refused to place his arms behind his back when asked. One of the officers performed two knee strikes to Mitchell-Lomax's side, Aurora police said in a statement, noting that the technique is considered an acceptable use of force per the department's policies.
Mitchell-Lomax turned onto his stomach on the road and put his arms behind his back as officers eventually placed handcuffs on him.
Ward can be seen on the dashcam video lying on her stomach on the ground, screaming, "I can't breathe" and "Get off of me" and the officers attempted to handcuff her. According to the statement from Aurora police, Ward "never had any pressure applied to her neck or was never restrained in any way that could prevent her breathing."
Police said bystanders began to film the incident as the arrests unfolded, with Mitchell-Lomax heard on the video calling out for them to help.
Officers rolled Ward to her back once she was handcuffed, at which point she fell silent and still. Police said she began to hyperventilate, and officers called for an ambulance and paramedics. One officer can be seen attempting to get Ward to sit up, but she goes limp and slides back down to the ground.
She can be seen shaking, moaning and gasping intermittently as she lay on the ground. Aurora police said one of the officers attempted to assist her "by instructing her to control her breathing and told her to breathe in through her nostrils and out through her mouth, but she continued to hyperventilate."
Video shows the officer who initially pulled the car over appearing to search the vehicle as the three officers remain with Mitchell-Lomax and Ward both on the curb, Mitchell-Lomax continuing to yell profanities.
An ambulance can be seen arriving at the scene as two officers stood Mitchell-Lomax up. He can be heard complaining of hip pain, at which point the officers sit him back down. Both were taken to area hospitals, according to police.
Aurora police said one of the officers sustained a laceration to the inner left forearm and a laceration with bruising on the left side of his forehead.
Mitchell-Lomax was released from the hospital a few hours after the arrest and taken to jail, according to police, who said that as he was being booked, he alleged he had been injured by the arresting officers and had a bruise on his left hip. Police said officers attempted to take a photo of the bruise, per department policy, but Mitchell-Lomax refused.
Authorities said Ward also claimed to have been injured in the arrest, though officers did not observe any injuries and police said hospital staff said they did not see any injuries either.
Aurora police said in a statement that two witnesses saw the altercation between Ward and Mitchell-Lomax and reported it to police, as well as gave written statements to officers.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman posted on Facebook Monday morning that the department was "now expediting the process to get body cams for our officers."
"Honestly, it can’t happen fast enough," she added.