Last week, we told you about the dispute over the story of Patricia Lucero, who was bloodied by Denver cops during an incident captured on video. Now comes word of another alleged case of excessive force, this one taking place far outside the metro area, in the small southwestern Colorado community of Ignacio. But the accusations contained in a just-filed lawsuit are big: They involve Felipe Rubio's claims that police broke his leg while he was cuffed, then filed a false report about what happened. Details and the suit below.
The incident took place at the Ignacio police station, part of the town hall complex located at 540 Goddard Street. The area is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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On or about March 16 or 17 of last year, according to the suit (filed by the Denver firm of Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman), Rubio was arrested and handcuffed.
We're told another person was the target of the original bust, but when Rubio took issue with the behavior of the two Ignacio officers on the call, he was taken into custody as well.
Rubio is said to have been so concerned about his safety at the hands of the two cops in question that he asked that their interactions be recorded. This entreaty was denied, the suit maintains, as was his request to see a sergeant. In response to the latter, one of the officers is quoted as saying, "I'm sick of hearing this fucking shit!"
The suit says Rubio wasn't struggling or resisting. Nonetheless, one of the cops allegedly "pushed down hard on his shoulders from behind," then "viciously kicked Plaintiff's leg, causing his leg bone to snap and for him to fall down."
The tibial fracture is captured in this x-ray; the image is included in the lawsuit.
An instant later, Rubio knew something was terribly wrong, and he asked the cop to call for an ambulance. Instead of immediately doing so, one cop is said to have told Rubio that "helping him would cost the City a lot of money." And while the officer ultimately contacted emergency personnel, the suit estimates that twenty-to-thirty minutes passed before he did so.
In a subsequent police report, the two cops stated that Rubio had broken his leg by attempting to kick one of the officers and instead connecting with a nearby sink cabinet. But there was one problem with the tale: The EMT who treated Rubio says the cops told him something completely different.
The EMT's contemporary account says that the patient "was resisting and taken down with a kick to the back of the knees inside the police station." It adds that Rubio said "he fell to his anterior side while handcuffed behind his back."
A year later, the suit says, Rubio "has ongoing impairments, dysfunctions and limitations including decreased mobility and use of his injured leg," not to mention "medically related charges and expenses for surgery and therapies" and "ongoing emotional distress and physical pain from his arrest and the unreasonable brutalizing excess force employed during his unconstitutional seizure and arrest."
Attorney John Holland's firm is also suing the City of Denver over the death of Jimma Real, killed in September 2012 following a botched 911 call. When asked about the importance of the Rubio case, he replies, "Police brutality is important. This young man cannot stand by and let this happen to him without coming forward to seek accountability for his leg being purposefully broken by a kick while he was handcuffed behind his back.
"You're not supposed to kick people who are handcuffed behind their back, unarmed and in custody."
For Holland, the small-town setting of the incident speaks to "the pervasiveness of the problem. It reminds us that it can happen anywhere."
Here's the complete lawsuit.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa March 14: "Videos: Patricia Lucero slammed into walls by cop in controversial no-discipline incident."