The trial of the Colorado State University student who was seen being thrown to the ground by a Fort Collins police officer in a viral video is set to begin Monday.
Michaella Surat, 22, faces misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer from the April 6 incident in Old Town Fort Collins.
A nine-second video showing Fort Collins Police Services Officer Randy Klamser throwing Surat face-first into the ground outside Bondi Beach Bar spread rapidly on social media in the days after the arrest.
Surat’s attorney also alleged 115-pound Surat sustained a concussion and bruises from the arrest.
Klamser, however, was cleared of wrongdoing in June. Police said he followed standard procedure, and Surat assaulted the officer prior to what was captured on video and circulated on social media by a bystander.
While police captured the entire incident on body-worn cameras, the footage will not be released until after Surat’s criminal proceedings have concluded so as not to influence a jury.
According to arrest documents, officers were responding to a disturbance between two men near the bar. As officers spoke to employees about the fight, Surat reportedly “shoulder-checked” the bouncer and an officer, and then pulled her boyfriend, one of the suspects, from the area, FCPS spokeswoman Kate Kimble previously told the Coloradoan.
Officers then reportedly told her she could leave but her boyfriend could not, but she stayed and “hit an officer multiple times and grabbed an officer by the throat,” according to arrest documents.
Fanned by the power of social media, the video was viewed thousands of times and created an international media frenzy that raised questions about police use of force, training and procedures, and accountability at a time when the police department was facing criticism stemming from discrimination and harassment allegations.
Following the video, students hosted a rally calling for police accountability April 18 outside the Fort Collins City Council meeting, which continued as planned, despite police chief John Hutto announcing his resignation earlier that day.
In a city survey about qualities residents wanted to see in a new police chief, police accountability was ranked one of the highest. But even that process has been delayed, amid what officials called a communication mishap with the city’s contracted recruiting firm.
Surat was initially charged with third-degree assault and obstructing a peace officer, both misdemeanors, for which she pleaded not guilty in July.
In August, the District Attorney’s Office amended her charges to resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer, an amendment that her lawyer argued signified false prosecution and ignoring “outrageous police misconduct.” A judge ruled against dismissing her case in September.
Surat is out of jail on a $1,750 bond.
All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.