8 Shotgun Wielding Cops Dispatched to Confront College Student Cleaning his Front Yard.

BRLDF: Recently released video shows an intense confrontation initiated by Boulder, Colorado police with an individual cleaning his front yard. Despite the entirely pedestrian nature of this activity, the primary officer believed this to be suspicious enough to warrant an investigation. When the resident naturally became agitated, this officer requested backup, identifying the trash picker pole held by the man as a “blunt object”.  Despite the approximately 20 foot distance between them, this officer wielded a drawn handgun, and rather than retreat (as would seem appropriate if someone believed they were in real physical danger),  repeatedly closed the distance and approached the resident ordering him to “sit down”.

Over the course of the confrontation, which was initiated, provoked and escalated by the Boulder Police, additional Officers arrived, some bearing shotguns, and surrounded the resident. This is an example of “Command and Control” policing, wherein an adversarial dynamic is established between law enforcement & the public. Describing a flimsy maintenance tool as a “blunt object”, repeatedly approaching an agitated individual doing nothing wrong with gun drawn, and ordering him to “sit down”, this cop was establishing legal use of force justification in the event this exchange resulted in violence, or death (to the “suspect”).

This is an example of a police officer abusing his power, more concerned that this totally unjustified investigation did not receive immediate and complete submission. Plainly, this cop felt that his Authority was disrespected, and was determined to show this citizen that he was the boss.

An outrageous violation of the Fourth Amendment, something no American should tolerate, and the exact reason BRLDF was founded.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The city of Boulder should be embarrassed, and unless they’re looking to repeat the Philip Brailsford / Daniel Shaver incident in Mesa, Arizona, this police officer should be removed from active duty as he clearly lacks the maturity to interact with the general public in a sensible manner.

Police in Boulder, Colo., are investigating a March 1 confrontation between officers and a black man picking up trash.

March 7

The Boulder, Colo., police department is conducting an internal investigation after video surfaced of an officer questioning a student who was picking up garbage in front of his residence. The officer has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

On March 1, an officer approached the man as he was sitting in an area behind a private property sign and asked him if he had permission to be there, according to a department release. The Daily Camera reported that the man is a student at Naropa University in Boulder, and the building is listed as a school residence. Police have not publicly named the man or the officer.

The man gave the officer his school identification card and said he both worked and lived in the building. However, the officer continued to investigate and called for backup, “indicating that the person was uncooperative and unwilling to put down a blunt object.”

In the 16-minute video, which appears to have been taken by a friend and fellow building resident after the encounter began, the man can be seen holding a bucket and a trash picker.

“You’re on my property with a gun in your hand threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash?” the man with the trash picker says.

The man being questioned repeatedly says of the officer, “He’s got a gun!”

“Just relax, man,” the officer responds as sirens are heard and more officers arrive and surround him.

Though a police spokeswoman would not release the number of officers involved, citing the ongoing investigation, at one point the man can be heard saying there are eight officers “with guns drawn.” The video appears to show at least one officer, on the far left, holding a gun before putting it away.

Police chief Greg Testa rebutted these particular claims made in the video at a city council meeting on Tuesday, saying “Body-worn camera video indicates that only one officer had a handgun out and it was pointed in the ground.”

The man who was stopped by police and the person taking the video repeatedly assert to the officers that the man lived there and was only picking up garbage.

An officer can be heard assuring the man, who is agitated by the encounter, that “my plan is not to shoot you.” The encounter continues for several minutes until an officer says “we’ve decided we’re going to end things at this point.”

“Officers ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property and returned the man’s school identification card,” the Boulder police department release states. “All officers left the area and no further action was taken.”

“We began looking into the incident on Friday, shortly after it occurred, and quickly made the decision that we needed to launch an internal affairs investigation,” Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh said in an emailed statement.

“Our internal affairs investigation will include a review of all body worn camera video, interviews of everyone involved which includes both officers and community members, reports and all other related information,” she said.

Testa said in a prepared statement before the city council that “this is an extremely concerning issue and one that we are taking very seriously.” Members of the public who attended the hearing carried signs and trash pickers, the Daily Camera reported.

“While it appears that the officers responding to the requests for backup followed standard procedures given the information they heard over the radio, all aspects of this incident, specifically the actions of the initial officer, are being investigated,” he said.

“I am not aware of any information that the man did anything unlawful or wrong,” Testa said.

Charles Lief, president of Naropa University, also spoke at the hearing. “I do not want to underestimate the amount of trauma that was experienced by our student, who was the victim in this situation,” he said. He noted that he spoke to the man’s mother and “she has made clear that her son is not interested in becoming a symbol for any issue that we have to deal with in this city.”

“The incident that impacted him is going to be one that’s going to take him a long time to deal with,” Lief said. “The city can’t wait that long for us to talk about the broader issues that we have to address.”


WATCH: Denver Cops Fatally Shoot Wrong Suspect 50 Times

by Ben Keller, edited

Denver police released body cam footage Tuesday of a March 2018 shooting that left the wrong suspect dead.

Three Denver cops mistakenly thought they were pursuing an attempted murder suspect who had escaped jail on March 19 when they opened fire on 27-year-old Steven Nguyen’s SUV, killing him.

Nguyen was shot almost 50 times.

Nguyen’s passenger 23-year-old Rafael Landeros was wounded, but survived the shooting.

It turned out, they shot the wrong guys.

The suspect, Mauricio Venzor-Gonzalez, who was on the lam from attempted murder charges after shooting at a police officer in November before escaping jail, was not inside the SUV.

In fact, police had mistakenly identified Nguyen as Venzor-Gonzalez when they began pursuing Nguyen.

Venzor-Gonzalez, 23, had been arrested earlier in the year after shooting at the officer, according to the Denver Post.

Even though Denver police officers William Bohm, Austin Barela and Susan Mercado shot the wrong people while looking for Venzor-Gonzalez, Denver Police Commander Barb Archer, declared the shooting justified because the officers believed they were actually pursuing Venzor-Gonzalez.

And since the people inside of the SUV did not follow orders, officers “feared for their safety.”

“Officers knew that Venzor-Gonzalez had been arrested in November for attempting to kill a police officer,” Archer said after watching the video.

“They believed the actions being made inside the car were efforts to locate a weapon. So fearing for their safety the officers fired.”

It happened as Denver police were monitoring Venzor-Gonzalez’s home after he escaped from deputies at Denver Health hospital on March 18.

An SUV with two men inside circled the block near Venzor-Gonzalez’s home.

Police believed the SUV to be Venzor-Gonzalez.

Officers were granted permission to pursue the SUV.

Nguyen fled, at times reaching speeds of around 100 MPH.

Video shows when officers stop the car, Nguyen and Landeros don’t have much time to comply before officers open fire, spraying their SUV with bullets.

The SUV then rolls down an embankment where officers claim they could see the occupants looking for something inside.

And that, they say, prompted them to fire a second round of shots as the SUV comes to a stop.

“This level of excess is particularly egregious because it was fueled by a dispatch from detectives who could not positively identify the passenger in Steven’s car, but falsely reported ‘to a 100 percent certainty’ that he was an escapee wanted for shooting at police,” Nguyen family attorney Spencer Bryan said in a statement

Watch footage of the incident, shown from three different body cam perspectives, above.

Listen to Denver Police Commander Barb Archer’s explanation about the incident during a March 22 press conference below.

“WATCH: Denver Cops Fatally Shoot Wrong Suspect 50 Times”, https://newsmaven.io/pinacnews/police-brutality/watch-denver-cops-fatally-shoot-wrong-suspect-50-times-Amwu8JIEgUmNvLvvQa8zAw/

Aurora settles police brutality case with woman who was stomped on the head by a sergeant

Sgt. Mike Hawkins retired earlier this year. Two other officers involved remain under internal investigation.

Aurora will pay $335,000 to settle a lawsuit with a woman who was tackled, punched and kicked in the head by a police sergeant, who then arrested the woman on an assault charge.

The settlement, which was finalized on Tuesday, illustrates what happens when police officers fail to recognize their own emotions and cannot de-escalate tense situations, said Adam Frank, an attorney who represented OyZhana Williams, the victim, in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Williams, a mother of two young children, also has had her criminal charges dismissed, he said.

“It’s the ultimate case of contempt of cop,” Frank said. “It’s obvious the most dangerous thing you can do is not break any laws but make a cop mad at you.”

The incident happened on Dec. 22, 2015, when Williams and two other people drove her boyfriend to an urgent care clinic on East Mississippi Avenue because he had been shot. Officers arrived after the medical staff reported a shooting victim had been brought to the facility.

Officers interviewed Williams and searched her car. Then, former Aurora Police Department Sgt. Mike Hawkins told Williams that he wanted to seize her car and demanded she hand over her keys, according to the lawsuit. But Williams questioned the legality of his order to seize the car, Frank said.

“The important part is he had no legal right to demand the keys,” Frank said.

In the video, Hawkins escorted Williams to a patrol car and opens a back door for her to get inside. Williams stood inside the open door and talked for about one minute to Hawkins, who appeared animated.

About a minute into the discussion, Williams raised her arm, dropped her keys on the ground and then got inside the car. But Hawkins yanked Williams out of the backseat, spun her around and slammed her back against the patrol car’s trunk. Hawkins and another officer put their arms around Williams’s neck and torso and slammed her to the ground.

Before walking away, Hawkins stomped Williams. The lawsuit said he stomped her head.

After the incident, Hawkins conferred with officers Jordan Odneal and Jose Ortiz, and they wrote an incident report accusing Williams of assaulting Hawkins. She was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree assault of a first responder, resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer. She spent eight days in jail, including Christmas 2015, Frank said. She also was fired from a job she had just started when a criminal background check revealed the assault charge.

Williams faced a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. All charges were dismissed by the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office in November 2016, according to court records.

If there had not been a video, Williams would have been forced to go to trial on a criminal charge where it would have been her story versus that of three police officers, Frank said. He also doubted that Aurora would have settled the case.

“Officer Odneal and Officer Ortiz should have reported Hawkins’ brutality and taken a completely different tact,” Frank said. “Instead, we saw two officers defend their sergeant and Ms. Williams had to fight for her freedom for nearly a year.”

Williams did not want to speak to the media about the officers’ attack, Frank said. She is ready to move on, he said.

The city of Aurora’s communications department issued a statement on behalf of City Attorney Mike Hyman saying it was not admitting liability in the case.

“This case was settled for the reason that many cases are settled – to avoid the cost of prolonged litigation,” the statement said. “That cost would have far exceeded the value of the settlement.”

Hawkins retired from the Aurora Police Department in January, said Sgt. Chris Neiman, a police spokesman. Odneal and Ortiz remain on the police force, but an internal affairs investigation is pending, he said.

Since the incident, Aurora police officers have started wearing body cameras. And Chief Nick Metz has moved the internal affairs division into its own space away from the department’s headquarters at the Aurora Town Center.

Noelle Phillips | The Denver Post, , “Aurora settles police brutality case with woman who was stomped on the head by a sergeant “, https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/22/aurora-police-brutality-woman-kicked-in-head-settlement/

Two Denver Sheriff Department deputies punished for using excessive force on inmates

Another deputy was punished for the third time this year for mistakes in the records unit

PUBLISHED: June 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm | UPDATED: June 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Two Denver Sheriff Department deputies received suspensions last month for using excessive force against inmates — one of them for the second time, according to department documents.

And a deputy in the records unit was suspended for the third time this year for making a careless mistake that could have put public safety in jeopardy, records show.

Deputy Thao Nguyen, who was hired in 2012, was suspended for 15 days after he shoved a handcuffed inmate face first into a wall and smashed the inmate’s face with his forearm and elbow, according to a copy of his disciplinary letter obtained by The Denver Post. An internal investigation also found that Nguyen made misleading statements when reporting his use of force incident, the letter said.

It is Nguyen’s second suspension this year for using excessive force. He was suspended for 10 days in March after he used a Taser to shock the fingers of an inmate who was trying to grab him through a door flap.

In both cases, Nguyen was ordered to take remedial use-of-force training.

Erika Gajarszki Kusa, who was hired in 2008, also recently was suspended for using excessive force. She received a 10-day suspension and was ordered to attend remedial use-of-force training, according to her disciplinary letter.

Gajarszki Kusa grabbed an inmate’s hair, which is not an approved method for controlling inmates. Gajarszki Kusa told internal investigators that she thought the inmate might spit on her or another deputy while they were riding in an elevator, the letter said.

The inmate already was restrained, surrounded by three deputies and facing a wall, the letter said.

In the Nugyen and Gajarszki Kusa cases, internal investigators determined that the inmates were not immediate threats and hands-on actions by the deputies were not required.

Last year, the sheriff’s department revised its use-of-force policy to place an emphasis on de-escalating conflict and avoiding use of force if at all possible. The new use-of-force policy was written as part of an ongoing reform effort, which the community demanded after a series of excessive force cases that left inmates dead or injured and cost the city millions in lawsuits.

In another incident, Gary Shimek, an 11-year employee, allowed a woman to escape the jail by not thoroughly checking her identity while he was on duty in the records management unit.

The inmate had swapped bracelets with her cellmate and pretended to be the other woman when she arrived at Shimek’s station in the release unit, his discipline letter said. Shimek asked the inmate to reveal her name and birth date and checked a photo on the woman’s ID bracelet, but he did not try to validate her identity when the inmate could not answer other questions asked during the release process.

Shimek allowed the woman to leave in the custody of a Colorado State Patrol trooper. She later escaped from the trooper, the letter said. The woman was apprehended and returned to jail.

Internal investigators determined that Shimek failed to serve as the last line of defense to ensure that the right inmate was released, the letter said.

Shimek not only put the community at risk by releasing the wrong inmate, who faced felony charges, but he also created a liability for the department because her cellmate was in custody longer than necessary, the letter said.

Shimek previously was punished twice this year for failing to release inmates on time, leaving them behind bars longer than necessary, records show.

Mistakes in the department’s records unit is an ongoing problem, one that the city has acknowledged could leave it vulnerable to lawsuits.


3 police departments sued in 2015 Northglenn drug raid that left a suspect dead, an officer wounded

Wife, 2 children were in home during shootout

NORTHGLENN, Colo. — A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster police departments in a 2015 drug raid shootout that left a 32-year-old suspect dead and a Northglenn officer wounded.

The lawsuit and law enforcement documents highlight the conflicting accounts of what happened on the morning of May 28, 2015 when officers shot James Edward Strong Jr. 22 times – according to a family attorney — while his wife and two young children were in the Northglenn home.

Northglenn Officer Nicholas Wilson was shot in the arm and the thigh and his armored vest stopped a third bullet.

The lawsuit also named as defendants Northglenn police Officer Nicholas Wilson, Thornton police Detective Jason Schlenker and Detective Adam Nielson of the North Metro Drug Task Force.

Ben Stewart, the Strong family’s attorney, said that during the drug raid, SWAT officers were “shooting blindly through bedroom walls” and floors, sending bullets into bedrooms where Strong’s wife and the couple’s 14-year-old son were. Neither the children, nor their mother were injured.

The lawsuit claims police used excessive force, shooting Strong in the head at close range after he’d collapsed in a “fetal position” on the floor and jeopardizing and traumatizing his wife and children and two visitors in the home.

However, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young’s review of the deadly shooting concluded that the evidence did not support filing criminal charges against the two officers who shot Strong, because they acted in self-defense, fearing for their life and the life of fellow officers.


The North Metro Drug Task Force, which is comprised of officers from local police departments, had begun an undercover investigation of Strong about a month before the shooting.

A confidential informant had told task force investigators that Strong was selling cocaine from his home at 10909 E. 109th Place in Northglenn.

According to the district attorney’s shooting review report, the informant arranged to have an unnamed individual buy cocaine from Strong and deliver it to the informant. In May, the informant conducted two cocaine purchases from Strong that were monitored by narcotics investigators.

But Stewart, the family’s attorney, said investigators did not frisk the informant to make sure he didn’t have drugs on him before he did the alleged drug transaction with Strong. This is a standard police practice to ensure the informant could only have received the drugs from Strong.

The district attorney’s report said the informant received several grams of cocaine from Strong during the two undercover deals.

Yet, the lawsuit says that, during the ill-fated raid, no drugs were found in Strong’s home.

Investigators found evidence that Strong was a convicted felon who had a “violent gang affiliation and access to multiple firearms,” the district attorney’s report said. Police said Strong also had criminal history for possession of a controlled substance, aggravated assault, forgery and identity theft.

Armed with this information that Strong might be dangerous, the drug task force obtained a “no-knock” warrant that allowed SWAT officers to burst into Strong’s home without knocking on the door.

Stewart acknowledged that Strong had trouble with the law as a young man in Tennessee, where Denver7 found he had convictions for assault and identity theft. But, since moving to Colorado in 2008, Strong had stayed out of trouble, settling down as a family man who worked for a moving company, the family’s attorney said.

Investigators had been conducting surveillance of Strong’s home and noted that the suspect’s wife and children tended to leave the home about 8:30 each morning for school. So, police planned to execute the search warrant at 10 a.m. — after mother and children were out of the home, according to the district attorney’s report.

Stewart said police missed a key point – the school year had ended a day before the raid. This meant the children would not have left home early for school.

On the morning of the raid, members of the Northglenn-Thornton SWAT Team gathered at a nearby school for a briefing and to rehearse on the operation.

Then they got into an armored vehicle and drove down the street to Strong’s house.

Officers said they used a public-address system on the armored vehicle to announce they were police. After SWAT officers used a battering ram to force open the front door, a sergeant said he loudly announced: “Police, Search Warrant! Police, Search Warrant!”

Yet, Strong’s family members and visitors said they never heard the intruders identify themselves as police.

SWAT officers found Strong’s brother and a friend, both visiting from Tennessee, in the living room area and ordered them to get down on the floor.

Then Northglenn Officer Nicholas Wilson and Thornton Detective Jason Schlenker went down a hallway toward bedrooms as they searched for Strong. Both officers were wearing SWAT gear and carrying semi-automatic rifles.

Wilson looked in an open bedroom door, and “saw a little girl on a bed,” the DA’s report said. Schlenker also saw “a child sitting on the bed looking at the officers.”

Wilson turned to the left and saw another bedroom door that was opened about an inch. The officers pushed the door open. It was dimly lit inside. Wilson saw a woman on the far side of the bed. He heard movement behind the door.

Suddenly, Wilson saw a muzzle flash and heard a gunshot. He saw a man who “appeared to be holding a handgun held up,” according to the DA’s report.

The man kept shooting and Wilson felt a burning in his arm, near the elbow. He knew he had been shot. Wilson began firing back at the man. Wilson moved past the open doorway and saw the gunman go to the ground, but the gunman kept shooting. Wilson felt pain in his leg, according to the officer’s account in the district attorney report.

“At that point, Officer Wilson began shooting through the wall from the hallway into the bedroom in the general direction of the male on the ground,” the DA’s report said. Talking later with shooting investigators, “Officer Wilson expressed that he was in fear for his life, the lives of the other officers and the other individuals in the home.”

“Officer Wilson did a quick look into the child’s room and observed the girl stuffing herself between her bed and the wall,” the DA’s report said.

Detective Schlenker came up to the bedroom door and saw a man lying on his back on the floor holding a pistol and firing at Wilson. Schlenker saw Wilson firing through the hallway wall into the bedroom toward the gunman, the DA’s letter said.

Schlenker aimed his rifle at the gunman and “fired until he observed the male go limp and stop shooting,” the DA’s report said.

According to the lawsuit, Lanhisha Richmond, Strong’s common-law wife, “was yelling at the Schlenker to stop shooting as Strong Jr. was in a fetal position on the floor and not resisting.” The lawsuit said Schlenker kept shooting as he walked toward Strong, lying on the floor.

Schlenker estimated that his last shot was about 18 inches to 2 feet away as he fired a shot into the man’s head, the DA’s letter said.

According to a forensic expert hired by the family’s attorney, the final shot was 10 inches from Strong’s head.

“Schlenker’s actions amounted to the execution of Strong,” the lawsuit said.

Schlenker later told shooting-review investigators he “felt he had to kill the male or the male would kill them.”

Strong’s wife later told investigators she and her husband were asleep in their bedroom when they were awakened by a rumbling sound.

According to the lawsuit, “James Strong Jr., upon waking to loud noises coming from down stairs in his home and with his minor child in the next room feared for the safety of his family.”

Strong pulled a handgun from under the mattress and went to the bedroom door, which was opened a crack, his wife later told police.

She said she saw green army fatigues. The door opened wider and “SWAT officers had guns in their faces and started shooting.” She told investigators Strong fell to the ground as the officers continued shooting. She said she didn’t remember Strong firing his handgun.

The lawsuit says Strong was “standing behind the door with the gun pointed upward, to defend his family from whoever was intruding on their home. Once the intruders began to enter his bedroom, James Strong Jr. fired two shots at the intruders, who had not yet identified themselves as law enforcement.”

Crime-scene investigators found Strong dead on the bedroom floor, his right hand still gripping the 9mm handgun. Investigators found three spent 9mm shells, indicating Strong had fired three shots.

The shooting-review investigation found Wilson had fired 15 rounds from his .223-caliber rifle.  Schlenker had fired 11 rounds from his .223-caliber rifle, which was equipped with a silencer.

An autopsy found that Strong had 19 bullet entry wounds, including shots to his face, neck, chest, arms and lower extremities.

“The remains of Strong’s body were described as pulpified in the coroner’s report,” according to the lawsuit.

Stewart said Wilson firing “blindly” through the walls into the bedroom could have struck Strong’s wife. The attorney said that shots Schlenker fired into Strong’s body on the floor went through to the basement and into a couch where the couple’s 14-year-old son was sleeping.

The lawsuit claimed the police departments failed to properly train their officers on how to execute a no-knock search warrant.

Thornton Police Chief Randy Nelson issued this statement on Friday in response to the lawsuit:

“The North Metro Drug Task Force and the cities of Thornton and Northglenn stand by the facts, evidence, and merits of the investigation in the James Strong case. In May 2015, the Northglenn/Thornton SWAT Team carried out a valid and necessary court issued no-knock search warrant. Upon authorized entry into the home SWAT Officers clearly announced their presence, purpose for entry, and instructions to the occupants. SWAT Officers were immediately met with lethal force by James Strong in a back bedroom. A Northglenn SWAT officer was struck and wounded by three rounds fired from James Strong’s weapon. James Strong’s firing of a weapon at officers caused officers to return fire, mortally wounding him. Narcotics evidence and stolen property were obtained from the residence as a result of the search warrant.

“In August 2015, the Adams County (17th Judicial District) Critical Incident Team completed an independent investigation and presented its findings to the Adams County District Attorney whose legal analysis of the officers’ actions during the James Strong case resulted in the conclusion the officer’s use of lethal force was justified.”


Cop fakes body cam footage, prosecutors drop drug charges

Officer said he searched car, then turned on body cam to recreate it for “the courts.”

Boston Globe/Getty Images

Prosecutors in Pueblo, Colorado are dropping felony drug and weapon-possession charges after an officer involved in the case said he staged body cam footage so he could walk “the courts through” the vehicle search that led to the arrest.

The development means that defendant Joseph Cajar, 36, won’t be prosecuted on allegations of heroin possession and of unlawful possession of a handgun. The evidence of the contraband was allegedly found during a search of Cajar’s vehicle, which was towed after he couldn’t provide an officer registration or insurance during a traffic stop. Officer Seth Jensen said he found about seven grams of heroin and a .357 Magnum in the vehicle at the tow yard. But the actual footage of the search that he produced in court was a reenactment of the search, the officer told prosecutors.

“Everyone who looked at the video believed it was in-time documentation of what actually happened,” lawyer Joe Koncilja told Ars. The video, he said, shows the officer is “surprised by the fact that he found the gun. It’s tampering with evidence.” The video was shown in court during a March preliminary hearing where a judge found sufficient evidence to prosecute Cajar.

The Pueblo Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the body cam incident.

The alleged police misconduct surfaced after the local prosecutor texted Jensen to make sure his report matched the body cam footage.

According to the Pueblo Chieftan:

Jensen replied back, saying, “For the search, the body cam shows different than the report because it was. Prior to turning my body cam on I conducted the search. Once I found the (expletive referring to evidence), I stepped back, called (a fellow officer), then activated my body cam and walked the courts through it.”



AdCo deputy arrested after forcing suspect off roof

An Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy has been arrested after forcing a suspect off a roof during a confrontation in March.

An Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy has been arrested after forcing a suspect off a roof during a confrontation in March.

James Cook, 33, was arrested Thursday and is being charged with 2nd degree assault.

According to a press release, it all started with a domestic violence call in Brighton on March 21.

The suspect, Alejandro Martinez, 24, ran from authorities and climbed onto the rooftop of an outbuilding nearby.

Police say he was refusing direct orders to come down so Cook, an Adams County K9 hander, was sent to the roof with a dog to attempt to take Martinez into custody.

Witnesses told police that during the ensuing confrontation, Cook physically forced Martinez off the roof.

Martinez fell and was taken into custody on the ground. He was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Martinez was charged with criminal mischief, 3rd degree assault, obstructing a police officer and domestic violence.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office, which was also involved in the arrest of Martinez, investigated the claims that Cook had forced Martinez off the roof. Their investigation ended Thursday with the arrest of Cook.



Attorney calls for independent investigation into Fort Collins arrest caught on camera

8:24 AM, Apr 10, 2017
10:10 PM, Apr 10, 2017



FORT COLLINS, Colo. — An attorney representing the woman who was seen on video being body-slammed by a Fort Collins Police officer is calling for an independent investigation into the incident.

The unnamed attorney spoke to ABC News Monday after the Snapchat video surfaced. The video shows a Fort Collins Police officer slamming Michaella Surat, 22, to the ground outside the Bondi Beach Bar Thursday evening.

Police say Surat was subdued after she physically obstructed and struck an officer. Police had said the procedure was a “standard arrest control.”

The attorney said in a statement released Monday that an independent investigation would be appropriate and described Surat’s treatment as “disturbing.”

The following is the attorney’s full statement:

We are currently investigating the facts of this case. I don’t believe that the circumstances of the evening of 4/6 dictated this extreme degree of force from the officer and hope that any additional evidence that may exist will be turned over to us quickly. We find the response attributed to law enforcement that this is standard procedure , if true, DISTURBING at best. We hope that additional witnesses come forward and contact my office.  We appreciate the overwhelming community outreach and support for Michaella and agree that an independent investigation into this matter would be appropriate. Please respect the family’s privacy while this matter unfolds.

The chief of the Fort Collins police is pledging to conduct a fair investigation. In a statement Sunday evening, Chief John Hutto says the department will review the officer’s actions. But Hutto says he will not release the video from officers’ body cameras.

Surat was arrested and booked into the Larimer County Jail on charges of third-degree assault and obstructing a peace officer.

Criminal Justice and Criminology Professor Dr. Andrea Borrego said detailed use of force policies are directly related to fewer complains and incidents.

“We don’t have the body cam footage or what happened beforehand but still, it doesn’t seem like that was a necessary use of force for that situation,” Borrego said.

The Ft. Collins Police Department defines different types of “use of force” in its police policy manual. The policy also states when those incidents should be reported:

(a) The application would lead a reasonable officer to conclude the individual may have experienced more than momentary discomfort.
(b) The individual subjected to the force expressed a complaint of pain or injury.
(c) Any application of a control device as described in Policy 308 – Control Devices and Techniques.
(d) The individual subjected to the force was rendered unconscious.
(e) An individual was struck or kicked in any manner.
(f) The application caused a visible injury, serious bodily injury or death.
(g) An individual alleges any of the above has occurred.


Details emerge in complaint against Loveland police officer

Timothy Jarrett, 30, was on the ground and in handcuffs when he was shot with electric stun gun

By Sam LounsberryReporter-Herald Staff Writer

Posted:   03/29/2017 09:23:43 PM MDT

Loveland Police Sgt. Justin Chase speaks during a press conference in this Sept. 2015 file photo. Chase is facing misdemeanor charges of third-degree

Loveland Police Sgt. Justin Chase speaks during a press conference in this Sept. 2015 file photo. Chase is facing misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault and harassment after the arrest of an individual and investigation by the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

A Nov. 5 Loveland Police Department arrest in which a man in handcuffs was shot with an electric stun gun is now under increased scrutiny following a grand jury indictment of Sgt. Justin Chase, court documents show.

An arrest affidavit for 30-year-old Timothy Jarrett indicates Jarrett was under the influence of alcohol when he acted violently during contact with Loveland police officers Nov. 5, and was subsequently shot with an electric stun gun while handcuffed.

The affidavit reports police approached Jarrett at his home in the 1500 block of East Fourth Street on suspicion of violating a protection order.

Timothy Jarrett, 30

Timothy Jarrett, 30

When Jarrett admitted to LPD officer Matt Sychla that earlier he had sat next to 31-year-old Christina Garlow outside the Sports Station bar in downtown Loveland, Sychla advised Jarrett he was under arrest for violating a court order between him and Garlow that mandates the two have contact in public only with a third party present.

Jarrett then became resistant, and officers forced Jarrett into handcuffs, the affidavit says.

But while being escorted out of his yard, Jarrett shoved Sgt. Chase into a tree, then pushed backward against Sychla.

Officers took Jarrett to the ground and attempted to place him in a leg restraint, at which point Jarrett kicked Chase in the chest.

Jarrett was then shot with an electric stun gun, though the affidavit does not specify which officer fired the device.

After officers carried Jarrett to a patrol car and were trying to secure him inside the vehicle, he reportedly kicked Sychla in the genitals, nearly causing him to fall to the ground, the affidavit says.

Jarrett was originally arrested on suspicion of felony assault of a peace officer and misdemeanor counts of obstruction of a peace officer, resisting arrest, violation of bail bond conditions, and violation of a protection order.

All charges except the violation of a protection order were dismissed in court, though, after Jarrett pled guilty to the single count Feb. 28, court documents show.

The District Attorney’s Office investigated the incident after it was contacted by LPD in November regarding possible use of excessive force by Chase, and Chase was indicted by a grand jury on misdemeanor charges of harassment and assault earlier this month.

He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, city of Loveland spokesman Tom Hacker said last week.

Chase made his first appearance in court with his attorney Reid Elkus on Friday, when Larimer County Judge Kraig Ecton scheduled a pre-trial conference on Chase’s case for May 1, at which point Chase and Elkus will discuss with the District Attorney’s Office how to move forward with the case.

A status hearing on the case will follow that discussion May 18.

Chase has worked as an officer for LPD since his Feb. 1998 hiring, and was promoted to sergeant in April 2011 when he was assigned to the patrol operations division.

If Chase is convicted of either crime, he would face fines between $50 and $5,000 plus zero to 24 months in jail for the assault charge, and fines of $50 to $750 plus zero to six months in jail for the harassment charge, a District Attorney’s Office spokesman reported.

A city of Loveland press release from March 2 said the city may launch an internal investigation after the criminal proceedings conclude, and will consider pursuing an internal personnel investigation after the proceedings, and if an internal investigation is launched, Chase could remain on unpaid leave until officials conclude the investigation and any potential related appeals.



Man awarded $150K in Fort Collins Police misconduct case; Says officer should be fired

10:20 PM, Mar 10, 2017

DENVER — A Chicago man, who was awarded $150,000 in a police misconduct case, says the Fort Collins officer who illegally entered his house, pepper-sprayed him and arrested him, should be fired.

“Aaron Westby should not be on the streets anymore,” said Enan Heneghan. “He abused his power.”

Heneghan said he and his roommate were in their backyard writing lyrics last July, when a neighbor called police to complain about their loud music.

Officer Aaron Westby responded.

“When I asked, ‘Too loud,’ he said, ‘Way too loud,’” Heneghan said. “I said, ‘We turned it down.’ He said, ‘I’m going to need to see your ID.”

The Chicago teacher said that based on Westby’s demeanor, he wasn’t too eager to step outside his home.

“I said, ‘No, I’m helping a friend move,’” he said. “That’s when Westby cut me off and said, ‘I’m going to need you to step outside.’”

Heneghan told Denver7 that he knew his rights, so he just said, “I’m good man.”

“At that point, the officer decides to reach across the threshold and tried to rip me out of my own home,” he said. “I stepped back into my living room shocked and appalled.”

Cop invites civilian ride-a-long into home

Heneghan said what was even more astounding was that the officer then asked a civilian ride-a-long to come into the house and help him pin Heneghan down.

“Now, we have a civilian who has illegally entered the house at the request of this cop,” the teacher said.

Heneghan said that’s when he made it clear to the cop that he was being recorded.

Here’s a link to that recording posted on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqNZdD6j3kE

Civil rights violation

Civil Rights attorney David Lane called the forced entry a complete and total violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“The only way police can lawfully enter a house is either with consent or an exigency, which is defined as someone’s life is at risk, or if they have a warrant,” Lane said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has drawn a bright line on the threshold of everyone’s castle and said ‘Police may not enter. Period. The end.’”

Lane described the officer as a “cowboy.”

“This cop believes he’s above the law and can do whatever he wants,” the attorney said. “There was an audio tape recording that’s just shocking to listen to.”

In that recording, you can hear Heneghan clearly tell Westby that he has no right to come into the house.

“This is illegal. You are on camera, currently,” Heneghan told him.

Heneghan told Denver7 that Westby pepper sprayed him in the eyes and ears, twice, brutalized him and put him in handcuffs.

He said he spent 28 hours in jail on trumped up charges that were later dismissed.

He said the officer wasn’t wearing a body camera and that Westby told another officer, who arrived later, to turn his camera off, so he could give his version of what happened.

“If this officer had been wearing a body camera, he would not have dreamed of breaking the law and abusing the power that he had over me at that time,” Heneghan said.

Sex abuse allegation 

Heneghan said the cop sexually abused him when he put handcuffs on him.

“He put his crotch in my face to rub in the fact that he had the power and there was nothing I could do about it,” he said. “That’s not the type of person that should be serving and protecting the streets of Fort Collins, or anywhere else in the state.”

‘I want the public to be outraged’

Lane said he wants the public to be outraged.

“I want the public to say, ‘What kind of police officers do we have protecting the people of Fort Collins?” he said.  “There are plenty of good cops in Fort Collins, but a cop like Westby needs to be kicked off the force. He should be prosecuted for this.”

Lane said the Bill of Rights exists because the framers of the Constitution understood that police can intimidate people into doing things.

“The Bill of Rights is designed to impede law enforcement,” he said. “Every aspect of it. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant. A warrant is a great big hassle. They don’t want to go through those hoops and without the Bill of Rights, they don’t go through those hoops. And when you have a police officer who ignores the Bill of Rights, it’s because they know they can get away with it nine times out of ten.”

Denver7 reached out to Fort Collins Police for comment about this case.

In an emailed reply, a department spokeswoman said “a civil settlement was reached regarding a July 2016 incident involving Mr. Heneghan. We are unable to provide details about personnel matters. An active internal investigation is ongoing for this case.”

Lane said he gives Fort Collins credit for wanting to reach a settlement before a lawsuit was filed.

He said if his client had to go to court, they would have won much more than $150,000.