BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington police are investigating an allegation of physical abuse by an officer during a June 29 arrest related to a fight that involved a crowd of several hundred people at a restaurant in Bloomington.
Gabriella Calhoun, 18, of the 400 block of West Union Street, Bloomington, is charged with aggravated battery of a police officer and resisting arrest. She was released on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond.
Charges state Calhoun caused an abrasion to the arm of police officer Justin Gale during her arrest. Gale was escorting people out of Denny’s restaurant when the dispute with Calhoun began, the charges state.
Another officer reportedly suffered a minor injury. Calhoun was the only person arrested.
In an interview Tuesday with The Pantagraph, Calhoun said she was sitting with 15 friends who had been at a party with about 200 others at the nearby Lucky Garden Restaurant when a fight broke out between two women in the parking lot. The fight moved inside Denny’s after one of the women was confronted by the other after she left the restroom, according to Calhoun.
When police ordered everyone to leave Denny’s Calhoun said she and her friends moved toward the door.
“We didn’t have a choice. We had to leave. Then I remember a grip on my neck,” said Calhoun.
Not knowing that the hand on her neck belonged to a police officer, Calhoun said she pushed back.
“After that I just remember spitting out blood. Spitting my teeth out. I don’t know how I got on the ground. At the time, I had to be unconscious,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said it is possible that some of the people at Denny’s were not connected with the party. Guests at the gathering parked at businesses along Eldorado Road and were retrieving their cars from Denny’s and other lots when the incident took place, she said.
Calhoun’s mother, Montana Calhoun, said her daughter required dental surgery to replace three broken teeth and has headaches as a result of the incident.
“I’m very upset about this situation,” she said.
In a news release issued Tuesday morning, Bloomington police tell a different story, saying officers responded about 1 a.m. to the fight. One man was stabbed but refused to cooperate with police, police said.
A total of 21 Bloomington officers and nine more from Normal and McLean County responded to calls for assistance after people in the incident grew more aggressive, according to Bloomington police.
Interim Bloomington Police Chief R.T. Finney said the city has tried to contact the alleged victim and has provided her with a form to file a complaint, should she choose to do so. Montana Calhoun said the family is considering a meeting with Bloomington police.
According to police, Calhoun pushed and then struck an officer with a closed fist and struggled as two officers tried to handcuff her.
“As officers were struggling with Calhoun, a large crowd became aggressive toward officers and … refused to comply with officers’ numerous commands to get back,” police said.
When officers from other agencies arrived, pepper spray was used to disperse the crowd, according to police. People fled as backup units arrived, said the statement.
Twin City public relations company owner Nikita Richards, who said she is a spokeswoman for the family, said Tuesday she believes an outside agency should conduct the investigation into the incident.