DENVER (AP) — A Black man who was punched and kicked by police during a traffic stop in Colorado Springs filed a federal lawsuit against three officers on Wednesday, alleging they beat him “beyond recognition” and left him with significant PTSD-like symptoms.
After Dalvin Gadson and a passenger were stopped in October for driving slowly and not having license plates, police body camera footage shows an officer telling Gadson to get out. Gadson opens the driver’s side door, turns his body to face toward them and asks to remain seated inside.
Officers tell him he needs to get out because he’s under investigation for DUI. But he objects. After that, the camera footage captures officers reaching in to get him out and a blurry struggle where it is difficult to see who is doing what.
According to the lawsuit, two officers punched him in the face and one of them put his knee into Gadson’s forehead, causing him to fall back into the car. According to an arrest affidavit, police said Gadson retreated back into the car and kicked one of the officers in the chest and then “kicked, scratched and punched” the officers.
The body camera footage shows an officer repeatedly punching Gadson from the passenger side of the car. According to Gadson’s arrest affidavit, an officer punched Gadson in the face to prevent him from getting a knife out of the car’s console and continued to strike him multiple times. Another portion of the video footage shows an officer kick Gadson once he is pulled out of the car and placed on the ground.
One of Gadson’s lawyers, Harry Daniels, described the knife as a small pocket knife. But he declined to address the police’s allegation further during a news conference announcing the lawsuit outside the police department.
“Look at the video. The video tells the story,” he said, noting that Gadson was no longer being prosecuted for assault.
Prosecutors have dismissed two felony assault charges against Gadson, but he is still being prosecuted for obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, said Howard Black, a spokesperson for the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from officers Colby J. Hickman, Matthew Anderson and Christopher Hummel for violating Gadson’s constitutional rights. The officers could not immediately be located for comment.
Colorado Springs police spokesperson Robert Tornabene declined to comment on the lawsuit. However, after Gadson’s lawyers released body camera footage of the incident last week, the department issued a statement saying that a review had found that the officers had followed department policy on use of force but that an internal affairs investigation was being conducted.
Associated Press researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report.