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NEW: Phoenix police held a teenage girl on the hot asphalt until the pavement burned through her skin, forcing her to be hospitalized in the burn unit. She has permanent scars.…
Police were called to break up a fight between a group of high school students during a record-breaking heatwave. The fight had died down when officers arrived. Then one of the policemen grabbed Roniah Trotter and held her face down on the sidewalk while trying to arrest her...
“My face was burning. I have never felt nothing so hot,” Roniah said, recalling how she screamed for help and felt like she was going to pass out. “When they did eventually get me off the floor, the pavement had burned my skin off." (image of her arm after incident + scars today)
Instead of taking Roniah to the hospital, police put gauze on her wounds and arrested her, taking her to the precinct.

She was booked for assaulting numerous officers + resisting arrest.

Her mom took her to the ER the next day and they diagnosed her with second-degree burns.
Phoenix police told me Roniah was “aggressive and refused to listen to the officer” and that the arrest + use of force were justified.

Spokesperson said there were no policy violations when officers burned the skin off of a teenager who had been involved in an afterschool fight
There was a record-breaking 113F heatwave that day. Phoenix gets so hot that the city has law banning dogs from hiking trails when temps are above 100F so the pets don't burn their feet.

But there does not seem to be any police policy to prevent officers from burning civilians.
“In a city that is aware of the danger these temps pose to animals, it’s absurd they haven’t created policies within their dept to protect residents" -civil rights lawyer Heather Hamel. “They have this idea that the ends justify the means, no matter how brutal those means are."
Hamel said it was hard to imagine this type of brutal arrest against white high schoolers: “The response would’ve been to laugh it off and say, ‘You guys are done now.' ... White youth are seen as innocent and in need of nurturing and care. All children should be seen that way.”
It's hard to overstate how much this arrest + aftermath have impacted Roniah. “I was the victim … but I realized the cops can just make the story be what it really wasn’t.” She worried about her dreams of nursing school: “No one’s gonna wanna hire a nurse who beats the police.”
Roniah, now 18, is a dancer and aspiring nurse who struggles to wear clothes that show her skin + scars: “It bothers me a lot. My family has been a big help, reminding me I’m beautiful, saying, ‘Don’t let that stop you from showing off your beautiful skin.’”
Roniah told me she is reminded of her arrest on a daily basis, when anyone asks about her scars or when she sees news of others abused or killed by police:

“It replays and replays in my head all the time,” she said. “It’s never going to go away.”
Roniah said she was grateful to survive: “Breonna Taylor lost her life. Thank God that wasn’t me. But I’m still hurting."

Last month, Ramon Timothy Lopez, 28, died after Phoenix police held him on asphalt for several minutes in 100-degree heat.…
These kinds of assault and brutality claims are not unique. In June, we published body camera footage showing an officer slamming a young woman to the ground within minutes of a routine traffic stop. Police said it was justified.…
And last month, two Phoenix women shared their accounts of sexual assault and abuse by police:…
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