Lawyers for a Colorado veteran who had been beaten to a pulp by police during a traffic stop have filed a federal lawsuit claiming his civil rights were violated.
Dalvin Gadson’s attorneys say Colorado Springs police officers savagely beat him without cause, pounding him in his head and face with their fists, leaving him drenched in blood, swollen and bruised.
Lawyers announced the filing of the lawsuit at a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 21, in front of the Colorado Springs Police Department headquarters. The federal excessive force complaint names the CSPD officers involved in the alleged assault on Gadson on Oct. 9.
“It’s been two months since Mr. Dalvin Gadson was viciously beaten, brutalized, and left bloodied by Colorado Springs police officers. Mr. Gadson and his family want these officers who attacked him fired and criminally charged,” Gadson’s attorney Harry Daniels said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star.
Daniels said it was “a slap in the face” that the CSPD chief “found no issue with the officers’ actions.”
“Are they saying it’s OK for their officers to use excessive force without cause? Do they really find this behavior acceptable?” Daniels asked. “A blind man can see that it is not acceptable.”
Police body-camera video shows CSPD police officers Matthew Anderson, Christopher Hummel and Colby Hickman beating Gadson so severely that the entire side of his face is colored red with blood. One of the officers split his knuckles through his gloves. Attorneys say the ordeal exacerbated Gadson’s post-traumatic stress disorder, diagnosed after he served in the Army National Guard. Gadison said he was living in his car at the time.
Daniels said the officers had no regard for Gadson as a man, much less “a veteran who served his country honorably.”
“Unfortunately, what Mr. Gadson experienced falls in line with a pattern we’ve seen play out repeatedly in this country. We saw it decades ago when Black WWII soldiers risked their lives only to return to a nation that confronted them with lynching mobs and Jim Crow. While those soldiers and Mr. Gadson served different battles, the common thread they share is hostility from violent white mobs, except on Oct. 9, the mob that viciously assaulted Mr. Gadson wore police uniforms,” he said.
The man’s legal team wants the Colorado Attorney General and the El Paso County District Attorney to review the case.
Attorneys say Gadson had two black eyes, a busted lip, and one eye was swollen shut with blood in his cornea. He was charged with two counts of second-degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, driving under the influence, and driving without a license plate.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Hickman “spotted a gray sedan vehicle enter the parking lot,” and the driver was “demonstrating unorthodox driving behavior.” When he pulled behind the vehicle, he noticed that the license plate was missing, and there was no sign of a temporary tag.
Gadson later said on GoFundMe that he thought his tag was in the vehicle’s back window, where he’d placed it, because he “needed new screws to affix the plate to the trunk.” However, he said he was unaware that it had fallen from the window at the time of the stop. “At the time, I had it inside of my car in the backseat,” he wrote. “It was in the rear windshield area, but it slid to the seat area without me knowing.”
Hickman also said Gadison was “thick-tongued” and “slurred his speech.” The officers suspected him of marijuana use because his car smelled like the substance. However, the man’s attorneys said he did not deserve to be assaulted by the officers — even if he was suspected of driving while intoxicated.
The affidavit also claims that Gadison kicked officer Hummel in the chest several times and became “more aggressive” while they were trying to pull him out of the vehicle. However, body-camera footage contradicts the claims. The officers surround Gadson and start showering him with blows as soon as he shows signs of resistance. They talked casually and joked after dishing out the beating.
Charges claiming Gadson assaulted an officer were dropped, and the Department of Motor Vehicle dismissed claims that the officers had sufficient evidence that the motorist was impaired during a Dec. 7 hearing. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that a criminal DUI charge against Gadson is still pending.