A pair of lawsuits filed in federal court in Denver claim police violated constitutional rights with excessive force against protesters during last spring and summer’s racial justice protests sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The lawsuits, filed Monday, represent 50 plaintiffs total and name the City and County of Denver, unnamed defendants whom the lawsuit refers to as "Does 1 to 100", and Officers Reece Hunter and Alfonso Carrera.
The lawsuits have been filed by attorneys from Beem & Isley and Baumgartner Law.
The suit accuses Carrera of tackling a protester, Gregory Trickel, on May 29, 2020 after he obeyed officers’ orders to disperse and binding his wrists with zip ties. Trickel was arrested and charged with curfew violation and failure to obey a lawful order, the complaint says, but the district attorney’s office later dismissed the counts.
Hunter was accused of hitting another plaintiff, Nicholas Titus, with his squad car and driving away on June 13 last year while Titus was in a crosswalk with his hands up. Hunter was not on a service call at the time, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also alleges otherofficers tackled Titus several hours later as he and other protesters left peacefully.
The lawsuits cover allegations of conduct during protests between May 28 and July 19, 2020, claiming “each of the Plaintiffs was injured in some way after being targeted, shot at, gassed, and/or fired upon, either indiscriminately as part of a group or specifically, by the Defendant Officers because of their participation in, support of, observation or documentation of, and/or association with the peaceful protests and demonstrations against police misconduct and brutality.”
A girl whom one lawsuit claims was arrested and questioned by officers on June 27 without her father -- who accompanied her downtown -- and later released without charge is also among the plaintiffs.
The complaints detail injuries from tear gas and less-lethal projectiles some plaintiffs claim including bruising, nosebleeds and trouble breathing.
Plaintiffs claim the city didn't ensure from law enforcement agencies outside Denver brought in to respond to the protests used force in constitutional ways, or according the city’s policies and training for officers.
The lawsuits came after 50 claims from the protests were delivered to Mayor Michael Hancock’s office in November. At the time Clifford Beem told 9News he expected to file one lawsuit in federal court naming 50 plaintiffs.
The lawsuits come after Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor, the watchdog agency for the city’s law enforcement, released a report finding police used excessive force against protesters. The report also found the department did not keep staffing rosters in the early days of the protests and did not have body-worn camera footage for many officers.
In addition to damages and attorneys’ fees, the lawsuits also request mandatory training and policy changes.