On Tuesday, we told you about an excessive force lawsuit aimed at Denver police officer and former American Gladiator contestant Vicki Ferrari; a similar complaint targeted Abbe Dorn, also a Denver cop and onetime American Gladiator hopeful, last September. But Sean Olson, Ferrari's attorney, believes the accusations against his client are unwarranted, and he hopes to prove it in court next week.
Ferrari and Dorn, who are friends, both appeared on American Gladiators in 2008. Afterward, Ferrari joined the Denver Police Department's public-information unit. She also does traffic reporting for 9News -- exposure that makes her one of the DPD's more high-profile members.
Suing Ferrari is David Kraus, who was the manager of a Grease Monkey on Colfax back in 2007, when he encountered the officer. Here's how Kraus's attorney, David Lane, described the incident in our earlier post:
"The allegations are that she parked in the Grease Monkey parking lot, blocking the entrance. She was allegedly monitoring a stop down the road by another unit," Lane explains. "My client, who's a Vietnam veteran, a deacon in his church, a guy who salutes authority and loves cops, walks out to politely ask her to please move the unit out of the entry way, and she blows him off -- tells him, 'No, I'm not going to do it.' He says, 'May I get your supervisor's phone number and see what he says about that -- and may I get your business card?' And she starts yelling at him.
"He walks away," Lane continues, "but she gets out of the car, says, 'Hold it right there!' In his shop, she spins him around, puts him against the wall and puts cuffs on him. He asks, 'Why are you arresting me?,' and she says, 'Interference.' Supposedly this was a potentially deadly stop down the street and he was distracting her from protecting her fellow officers -- but it was apparently so deadly that she ignored them and slapped cuffs on my client because she believed he wasn't showing proper respect of her authority. And now he's got permanent nerve damage in his hand because she put the cuffs on so tightly. The top of his hand and part of his thumb are numb to this day."
Olson's account could hardly be more different.
"Officer Ferrari was the cover officer that day in what was potentially a high-risk traffic stop," he says. "She parked her car in the Grease Monkey parking lot, partially blocking one of three entrances to that parking lot. So David Kraus, the manager, approached her car and asked her to leave. Officer Ferrari told Kraus she would leave in a minute, when she was done. But Kraus became irate that Officer Ferrari wasn't doing exactly as she was told.
"Per Kraus's request, Officer Ferrari called her supervising sergeant, and Kraus went back inside the Grease Monkey. Then, literally moments later, while Officer Ferrari was on the phone with her sergeant, Kraus approached again, this time with a loaded gun in his pocket" -- although Olson acknowledges that Ferrari didn't know Kraus was armed at this time. "And he began yelling and demanding that she leave the property."
Because this was the second time Kraus prevented Ferrari from properly covering her fellow officers, Olson continues, "her sergeant, who heard Kraus yelling, told her to arrest Kraus for interference."
During the arrest, Ferrari found the gun, which Kraus was authorized to carry. "He did have a CCW [Carrying Concealed Weapon] permit," Olson says. "But if you have a CCW permit and you're carrying a weapon, you're required by law to carry the permit and a photo ID with you at all times, and Kraus had neither of those things with him."
As noted in the lawsuit, criminal charges against Kraus were dismissed. In addition, an internal affairs review of the incident deemed complaints against her to be "not sustained" -- a conclusion that falls short of describing them as wholly unfounded.
Olson declines to comment on the internal affairs ruling, and he offers no opinion when asked if Ferrari might have been targeted by the lawsuit because of her notoriety; the complaint against her wasn't filed until December 2008, more than a year after the incident took place -- and following her American Gladiators debut. "I can't climb into the head of David Lane and tell you why he does what he does," he says. "I have no idea if that played a role or not."
However, he says, "it's important to point out that Kraus was arrested without incident. He wasn't struck, he wasn't kicked, he wasn't taken to the ground. He was simply handcuffed, taken to the car and taken to a district substation that was literally three blocks away."
The case against Ferrari is scheduled to get underway on Monday, January 24. Page down to see another photo of Ferrari in action on American Gladiators, as well as to read the lawsuit and letters to David Kraus from both the Office of the Independent Monitor and the Denver Police Department's internal affairs bureau.
Letter from the Office of the Independent Monitor:
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Internal affairs bureau letter: