Denver Police Video Man Rammed in Genitals Lawsuit Update | Westword

Videos Show Denver Police Officer Ramming Baton in Man's Genital Area

Victim Michael Jacobs had no weapon.
A screen capture from Denver Police Department body-worn camera footage showing the instant before officers took down Michael Jacobs on July 29, 2020.
A screen capture from Denver Police Department body-worn camera footage showing the instant before officers took down Michael Jacobs on July 29, 2020. Denver Police Department via Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC
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A lawsuit filed against fifteen officers with the Denver Police Department, as well as Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, uses body-worn camera footage to support its claim that the defendants used excessive force against Michael Jacobs during a 2020 protest. The apparent reason for the beating Jacobs received: concern over his backpack, which contained supplies rather than a weapon.

Attorney Benjamin DeGolia of Denver-based Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, who represents Jacobs, draws particular attention to the alleged actions of officers Eric Leon and Greg Dulayev.

"Everything is happening very fast in the videos," DeGolia says of the clips. "I think it’s helpful to slow the videos down to see exactly what is going on — in particular Officer Leon viciously punching Mr. Jacobs in the face and Officer Dulayev ramming Mr. Jacobs in the genital area/anus with his baton."

Dulayev is at the center of another lawsuit, filed in 2017 by Gregory Heard, a homeless man. According to that complaint, which is still pending, Dulayev tased Heard as he was trying to surrender.

The Denver Department of Public Safety and the Denver City Attorney's Office both cited policy about not commenting on pending litigation when declining Westword's requests for comment about the Jacobs suit.

The protests that followed the police murder of Minneapolis's George Floyd in late May 2020 have spawned a series of lawsuits against Denver police. Examples include a complaint from Michael Acker, who was shot in the eye with a 40mm baton round (the suit prompted a $500,000 settlement approved by Denver City Council in January), as well as filings by Russell Strong, who lost an eye after being struck by a kinetic-impact projectile, and Gabriel Schlough, whose chin was essentially blown off by a KIP.

The Jacobs incident took place at a different event — a demonstration against the sweep of a homeless encampment in Lincoln Park, near the State Capitol, on July 29, 2020. At that time, no Denver police officers had been punished for their actions during the Floyd protests. Such inaction may well have contributed to the assault on Jacobs, DeGolia suggests, noting that the attack offers "a stark reminder that when police officers are not disciplined for their misconduct, they are empowered to engage in similar conduct again and again."

As noted in the lawsuit, filed on March 15, protesters at the Lincoln Park sweep argued that city agencies hadn't given residents of the encampment adequate notice that they would be required to move. Among them was Jacobs, whose red backpack is said to have contained food, water and medicine.

That evening, Jacobs communicated with Colorado State Patrol troopers who were patrolling the inside of a fence at the park; the suit maintains that CSP "explicitly ordered its troopers to refrain from using their less-lethal pepper-ball systems against protesters, who were attempting to dismantle the fence." But the dynamic changed around 10 p.m., when the suit says "DPD Gang Unit officers standing by received a dispatch call and three RDVs [rapid-deployment vehicles] containing approximately twenty officers deployed to the 1400 block of Broadway Street." An excerpt from dispatch audio documents an alert to the officers about an individual — Jacobs, presumably — who was "up against the fence, running his mouth at CSP." Shortly thereafter, one officer shouted, "Red backpack! Red backpack!" — and "no fewer than ten officers charged toward Mr. Jacobs."

According to the lawsuit: "While on top of Mr. Jacobs, Officer Leon punched Mr. Jacobs multiple times in the face, despite the fact Mr. Jacobs was unarmed and presented no threat to the officers. While the group of DPD officers piled on top of Mr. Jacobs, he braced himself and tried to shield his face from Officer Leon’s blows to Mr. Jacobs’s face and head. While Mr. Jacobs was lying on the ground, held down by at least five officers, Officer Dulayev repeatedly jabbed Mr. Jacobs with his thirty-six-inch baton, wielding it vertically and striking Mr. Jacobs in his genital area. The last of these strikes was a direct hit to Mr. Jacobs’s anus, which caused Mr. Jacobs to scream out in agony."

The clip below features body-worn camera footage from another defendant, Officer Donovan Boswell. The audio mention of the person "up against the fence" can be heard at approximately the one-minute mark.
The next video, showing body-worn camera footage of defendant Officer Dat Truong, offers a glimpse of Officer Leon punching Jacobs in the face at the 1:39 point.
A third video presents officer-worn camera footage of Officer Leon, who says, "Okay, all right" at 1:40 in response to Jacobs telling him, "Don't punch me." An instant later, Jacobs is rammed by Dulayev.
This fourth video was taken by a witness and is just 21 seconds long. DeGolia says he thinks it "shows Dulayev’s baton strikes more clearly than any of the body-worn cameras."
DeGolia contends that Jacobs is pressing the lawsuit because he's "committed to seeking justice for the violations of his constitutional rights and to doing everything in his power to help combat the cycle of violence and impunity perpetrated by the Denver Police Department."

Click to read Michael Jacobs v. Eric Leon, et al.
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