In Denver, we've seen a number of major lawsuit awards in cases during which alleged brutality incidents have been captured on video.
A prime example involved Jamal Hunter, who received a $3.25 million settlement for, among other things, being attacked in his jail cell by two deputies.
Now, similarly shocking video has surfaced in Colorado Springs in relation to Alexis Acker, who was face-planted by a police officer after she tried to kick him.
The incident took place in 2013 — but in recent days, Acker filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Springs Police Department. See that document and get more details below.
On November 21, 2013, according to the suit, police officers were dispatched to Acker's Colorado Springs home in response to a domestic disturbance report.
Upon their arrival, the cops discovered that one of the home's occupants, Tyrin Tanks, was wanted on an active warrant.
Acker, who is described as being "visibly intoxicated," tried to say goodbye to Tanks as he was being taken away, and when Officer Tyler Walker attempted to separate the two of them, she allegedly kicked in his direction — and managed to make contact with the thigh of another cop, Sergeant Mary Walsh.
At that point, Acker was arrested, too. The suit maintains that Walker pinned her face down to a sofa in a way that made it impossible to breath; she "flailed her arms and legs, kicking and twisting in an attempt to unbury her face out of the cushions of the sofa," the document states.
A short time later, Acker was taken to a local hospital, owing to her drunken condition. Hospital surveillance video shows Walker being led down a hospital corridor and then standing in front of a plastic chair.
At that point, the suit accuses Walker of striking Acker in the midsection, forcing her to sit in the chair. Here's a screen capture of that moment from the soundless video, originally obtained by the Colorado Springs Independent; the pic is included in the document.
A short time later, Acker kicks at Officer Walker.
He later claimed that she "kicked him with both feet in the groin."
The lawsuit, using the video is evidence, begs to differ. Acker can be seen kicking with only one foot, and it doesn't appear that she actually makes contact with Walker at all. Instead, she seems to hit a clipboard he's holding in one hand.
Here's a screen capture of the kick.
There's no ambiguity about what happens next.
Walker can be seen lifting Acker from the chair and slamming her to the floor, face down.
Other officers appear within seconds, but Walker continues to hold the handcuffed Acker pressed to the floor for quite some time after that.
In this screen capture, a pool of blood can be seen under her mouth.
Other images of Acker included in the suit are even more vivid.
Here's the unpixilated version of the image at the top of this post, showing damage to Acker's mouth (she broke two teeth):
And here's a shot of her under restraint:
The lawsuit, filed July 24, makes four claims for relief. Here's an excerpt from the first of them:
Defendant Walker engaged in the use of force that was objectively unreasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him, thereby violating Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights and this use of objectively unreasonable force caused serious and permanent physical and emotional injuries to Plaintiff.The suit asks for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages — and as we've seen, videos in cases like these can make a world of difference to their outcome.
50. Officer Walker’s actions and conduct under the circumstances involved an objectively, unreasonable excessive use of force and was malicious, willful, wanton and involved a reckless indifference to Ms. Acker’s constitutional rights, safety, health and life. Indeed, his conduct was intentional and done with malice.
Below, see the complete surveillance clip, followed by reports about the lawsuit filing by KKTV and KOAA, as well as the aforementioned document.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.