Nick Lynch excessive-force complaint: New claim alleges Denver Police cover-up
In our post about Nick Lynch's rejected excessive-force complaint against four Denver cops, Robert Liechty, Lynch's attorney, said this apparent loss allowed him to re-file the lawsuit on cover-up grounds.
Liechty has now done just that. Look below to check out his explanation for differences in the suits, plus the document itself.
Here's our previous description of the incident in question, which took place in March 2008:
On the evening in question, Lynch was waiting outside Pat's, a LoDo nightclub, when he got into a fight with another person in line. He insists that he acted in self-defense during the altercation, but the other patron followed him and his two friends, then flagged down a passing police officer.
At that point, the [original] complaint says, Lynch hid behind some bushes rather than risk being falsely accused of assault. He was subsequently approached by "up to six officers," with one of them allegedly striking him and throwing him face first into the bushes. Then, the document continues, "some 1-3 officers struck him while he was on the ground, hitting him approximately 6 times on the back of his left thigh with a nightstick or flashlight, causing permanent damage."
A black and white photocopy of Nick Lynch's leg contusions.
Lynch's claim was problematic in part because he didn't see which officer inflicted the damage upon him, and neither could two witnesses watching from across the street. But because Judge John Kane dismissed the case, Liechty can move forward with cover-up allegations, as he details in the following note, sent via e-mail.
"Last year, Judge Kane said that the cover-up claim, the claim that Nick Lynch originally brought, would be moot if Mr. Lynch could recover his damages by identifying which officer used the excessive force against him," Liechty writes. "Under the law, the cover-up claim is known as a denial-of-access-to-court claim, because the cover-up keeps a plaintiff from recovering his damages in court. At any rate, although we had a slim chance of prevailing on the underlying excessive force case, Judge Kane mandated that we at least try that avenue first before we could bring the denial-of-access-to-court claim, i.e., the cover-up claim."
Because the cover-up assertion didn't accrue until after the first case was dismissed, Liechty goes on, "it gives us a new two-year statute of limitations, and we brought a claim against the City that the City has a practice of allowing such cover-ups."
How so? According to Liechty, "because the City does not discipline officers, even though it may strongly suspect that the officers are maintaining a code of silence in order to escape discipline for their wrongful conduct."
To establish such a pattern of behavior, Liechty will likely draw upon other recent excessive-force allegations, including those leveled by Michael DeHerrera and Alexander Landau. However, such suits are difficult to win, as evidenced by an excessive-force lawsuit aimed at Officer Vicki Ferrari, which was recently decided in favor of the Denver cop/ex-American Gladiators contestant.
Page down to read the amended complaint:
More from our News archive: "Police brutality: Were Michael DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson targeted because they're gay?"
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- A Guide for How to Drive in Denver
- One Arrest at Broncos Victory Parade and Rally Out of Estimated 1 Million Fans
- NFL's Marijuana Ban the "Correct Policy," Says Commissioner Roger Goodell