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Woman says deputy pushed, injured her

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PROVO — Provo police are investigating a claim by a Provo woman that a Utah County sheriff's deputy pushed her down the stairs of a movie theater when she tried to intervene in an argument between the deputy and her date.

Vanessa Arnold, 22, said her head hit the back of a chair as she fell down the stairs of a Cinemark 16 at Provo Towne Centre on May 23.

The force of the fall caused her to lose vision in her right eye, she said.

Arnold, who was with her date and her father at the Brad Pitt movie "Troy" when the incident occurred, also is taking pills for an unrelenting headache.

She spoke about the incident Tuesday through a Spanish interpreter at an Orem law office.

According to Arnold, she was asking her date questions about the movie, which she couldn't entirely understand, when a man stood in front of them and asked them firmly to be quiet. And when the movie ended, Arnold's date, Lorenzo Castillo, told the man, Utah County sheriff's deputy Skip Curtis, that he owed Arnold an apology.

Curtis countered that they owed him an apology, Arnold said.

At that point, Curtis displayed his badge and told Castillo he was under arrest, Arnold said. Curtis grabbed Castillo's arm and took him toward the aisle, she said.

Arnold said she tried to put herself between the two men to ask Curtis why he was taking Castillo. She said Curtis then grabbed her by the arm and pushed her down the stairs.

Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said the deputy recalls the incident differently.

"It's a deputy who was at a movie and an incident occurred because of some activity by this party that's involved that was being generally annoying to both this deputy and other people who were trying to watch their movie," Tracy said.

"It ceased for awhile and it was brought up again as far as an issue by this individual and her (date). . . . He felt like things were getting to the point where it might get out of control."

Tracy said Curtis was unavailable for comment, because the incident is under investigation by Provo police. Curtis' status with the sheriff's office has not changed, and Tracy said there is no dispute that something happened.

"The dispute is over the level in which there was any impropriety or any kind of physical activity," Tracy said. "We're confident that it will be resolved in an equitable manner by Provo."

Arnold said some witnesses of the incident helped her because Curtis would not let Castillo attend to her. Castillo said Curtis escorted him out of the movie theater, asked for his identification and called the police department.

Castillo told Curtis he should apologize to Arnold, and Curtis said he would let Castillo go as his apology despite an outstanding ticket on Castillo's record, Castillo said.

Arnold said she was taken the the hospital by paramedics, and Provo police officers came to her house to speak with her a few days after the incident.

She said the officers suggested the deputy tried to help her at the theater rather than push her down the stairs. She also said the officers urged her to forget about the incident.

Arnold, who said she is a United States citizen, also accused the officers of saying they were going to send immigration officials to her home.

Arnold's attorney, S. Austin Johnson, said he advised his client to talk to news reporters because he felt the officers were trying to intimidate her in hopes she would not file a lawsuit against the deputy. No lawsuits have yet been filed.

E-mail: shelps@desnews.com