It’s been four months since Gladys Jahn has seen her daughter, Emily. Four months since Emily, who has psychosis and dissociative identity disorder, has been without her medication. And four months since Phoenix police officer Brian Lilly — who once shot six times at a homeowner he was called to assist, then tried to cover it up — violently arrested Emily and took her to jail, ignoring a court order stating that she is severely mentally ill and should be transported to a psychiatric hospital if found.
On March 31, 31-year-old Emily Lopatofsky was walking down McDowell Road wearing a sundress, a fur coat, and a child’s backpack. At some point, the young woman, who is described as having a childlike mentality and lacks situational awareness, stood near two men in the parking lot near Section Hair Studio on McDowell and Third Street.
Just before 1 p.m. on that Sunday afternoon, someone inside one of the buildings at 325 McDowell Road called Phoenix police and asked them to remove Lopatofsky and the two men from the property, according to police reports. When the officers arrived, they ran a records check on the men. One had warrants out for his arrest, so they detained him.
Police say Lopatofsky attempted to intervene in the arrest. They say she tried to pull the man away as officers were handcuffing him, and that when they tried to arrest her, she resisted. In his report, Officer Lilly wrote that additional officers had to respond to the scene to help detain the 5-foot, 125-pound woman, and that officers used a RIPP restraint on her, a type of restraint used by law enforcement to a restrict a detainees’ movement.
Lilly wrote that he “had a small laceration on [his] elbow” from his altercation with Lopatofsky. So the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed charges against her for two counts of felony aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest, also a felony in Arizona.
Emily Lopatofsky’s injuries.
Photos of Lopatofsky shared with Phoenix New Times show that her arms and legs were badly scraped following the encounter with Phoenix police.
According to a notice of claim filed against the city of Phoenix and Brian Lilly by Gladys Jahn and her attorney, Elizabeth Tate, police brought Lopatofsky to St. Joseph’s Hospital for medical treatment. Then they took her to jail, despite a court order issued just one month earlier stating that she is severely mentally ill and should be taken to a psychiatric hospital if found, the claim states.
A 2018 psychiatric assessment also obtained by Phoenix New Times states that Lopatofsky was “presented to the emergency department via police with psychosis (initially grandiose, hyper-religious, claiming she was talking to God and that St. Nick wanted her to cut her own throat).”
A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department said the agency could not comment on Jahn’s claims due to pending litigation.
When Lopatofsky was released from jail the following day, Jahn said, “she called me crying, saying the police beat her really bad. She kept begging me to get the video.” Jahn met with her, documenting and treating her injuries. She said she planned to return the next day to check on her daughter again, but she disappeared.
“I went to the police and filed a missing person report. I posted on Facebook. I asked them to put out a Silver Alert for Emily,” Jahn told New Times. “I couldn’t find her anywhere.”
“They beat the living hell out of her,” Jahn continued. “There is no excuse for what they have done, and now, we may never have her back. It’s been hell.”
Jahn believes Lopatofsky’s encounter with Phoenix police triggered a psychotic break and caused her to go missing.
Emails shared with New Times show that on April 9, Jahn emailed several photos of her daughter’s injuries to Allison Steinberger, a Phoenix police sergeant. Jahn said she and her husband have asked for the bodycam footage of the arrest and attempted to file an internal affairs complaint, but were told the footage needed to be redacted and that the officer’s actions were in line with department policy. New Times has also requested the footage but has not yet received it.
On April 10, Jahn received an email containing a missing-person report number from Detective Jared D’Addabbo with the Phoenix Police Department’s missing and unidentified persons unit. In the email, D’Addabbo asked Jahn to send current photos of Lopatofsky.
Reached by email and asked to confirm the authenticity of the emails shared by Jahn, D’Addabbo confirmed he had received the email from Jahn and said that he has “spoken to her several times regarding her missing daughter.”
On April 14, Jahn emailed D’Addabbo asking him to create a Silver Alert for her daughter, which appears to have never happened.
The following day, on April 15, a warrant was issued for Lopatofsky’s arrest, because she failed to appear in court for the case stemming from her March 31 arrest.
On April 29, then again on May 10, Jahn emailed D’Addabbo seeking updates on her daughter. Jahn said the police were unresponsive to her emails and did not tell her what they were doing to find Lopatofsky.
Then, toward the end of May, Jahn says she got a phone call from her daughter.
“We received a phone call from Emily stating that she had crossed over the border with some people, we don’t know who, and we don’t know why she went to Mexico,” Jahn said. “She was very, very psychotic. She said, ‘Mom, I’m with Jesus right now.'”
Jahn said that at that point, she got in touch with the FBI and the State Department. Emails shared with New Times by Jahn indicate that on May 20, Jahn contacted the U.S. Consulate in Nogales and provided recent photos of her daughter and background information on her condition. On May 21, she sent the same information to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, along with a filled-out missing-person questionnaire.
That same day, Jahn’s attorney filed the $1 million notice of claim against Phoenix and Officer Lilly for assault and battery, gross negligence, and excessive force. In 2011, the family of Tony Arambula settled a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix for $1.75 million after Lilly shot Arambula in the back. (Arambula had called the police for help after an intruder broke into his youngest son’s bedroom).
“We get calls from all these odd numbers. They change all the time. They say, ‘if you want to see your daughter you need to send money,'” Jahn said. “We ask where she is and to talk to her, but they just ask for money.”
According to Jahn, the FBI and the State Department have been trying to figure out how to get her daughter back from Mexico, but the process is complicated, particularly because they don’t know where Emily is or whether she went to Mexico voluntarily or not.
An email shared by Jahn with New Times shows that John Fletcher of the State Department sent Jahn an email on May 28 sharing a list of private investigators with her. When New Times contacted Fletcher, the email was forwarded to Paul Mastin from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
Mastin told New Times to get in touch with the State Department’s press contact, who in turn did not comment on the specifics of Lopatofsky’s case or confirm the authenticity of the emails shared by Jahn, but said, “When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need and to their families. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”
Jahn is skeptical that her daughter left willingly, since she didn’t take any of her belongings.
“When I spoke to Emily, I said we need to come and get you and bring you back home,” Jahn said. “She got frantic. She said I’m never coming home. I asked who she was with. She said Jesus Christ and the angels … If they brought her to a mental hospital, she would never have been taken down to Mexico.”