Back in October, Colorado Springs police officers reminded us that part of the culture of policing is the belief that physical violence is an appropriate response to Black people failing to comply with their every command immediately.
Earlier this month, we reported that Dalvin Gadson, a U.S. military veteran who served in the Army National Guard as a helicopter mechanic, was pulled over for failing to display his tags on his car, which he was reportedly living out of because he was homeless. An officer claimed he smelled marijuana in the car and ordered Gadson to exit the car. Gadson initially refused to get out of the car. Apparently, that was enough reason for multiple officers to decide to descend onto the vehicle and beat the hell out of Gadson. They were also caught on video laughing and bragging about the beating. One officer was photographed smiling and proudly displaying his bruised knuckle, presumably from the beating.
According to Colorado News Line, Gadson and his attorneys, including civil rights lawyer Harry Daniels, filed a federal lawsuit against three members of the Colorado Springs Police Department involved in the stop on Wednesday. The officers, Colby Hickman, Matthew Anderson and Christopher Hummel, are accused of using excessive force during the Oct. 9 arrest that resulted in Gadson being 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 license plates. The assault charges were ultimately dropped and the DUI charge was dismissed after it was determined that “there was insufficient probable cause to require a blood test.”
From the News Line:
Body camera footage from Gadson’s Oct. 9 arrest shows an officer telling Gadson to get out of the vehicle so the officer can detain him. Gadson, a 29-year-old Black veteran, stayed in the car despite officers’ instructions. After an officer says Gadson’s going to be “detained in handcuffs,” on suspicion of a DUI, Gadson responds, “No, I’m not.” At that moment officers descended on him and started beating him as they pulled him out of the vehicle. A second officer after removing the passenger entered the car from the passenger side and punched Gadson. Officers continued striking him once he was on the ground.
Colorado Springs police also said Gadson physically fought back against officers as they tried to pull him from the car and “on more than one instance re-entered the vehicle in the area of” a pocketknife that an officer observed in the center console of the car. Daniels said if Gadson actually tried to fight back and grab the knife, the district attorney wouldn’t have dropped assault charges.
“They obviously do not understand how badly I was hurt or the position that my mind sits in,” Gadson, who insisted he was simply trying to survive his encounter with the police officers, said during a news conference. “So we definitely need justice in Colorado Springs and we’re not going to stop until we get justice.”
The News Line also reported that “Daniels also cited a CSPD policy that states officers must issue a verbal warning before using excessive force, which he said the officers in this situation did not.” Even if that’s true, just think about how messed up it is that CSPD has a policy that says officers have to warn civilians they’re about to commit blatant acts of police brutality.
Bakari Sellers, another of Gadson’s attorneys noted that this isn’t a case where a few bad cops are making good cops look bad.
“I don’t think this lawsuit and everything else is about a few bad apples,” Sellers said. “I actually think Colorado Springs has a bad orchard.”
In fact, we previously reported that Gadson claimed, “No officers on the scene tried to stop this wrongdoing against me. There was thirteen peace officers on the scene.”
In other words: What good cops?
“This is a community that loves and serves and upholds its veterans, or at least we thought they did,” Sellers said. “But to see a veteran with your own eyes be pummeled 20 times, be kicked in the head…What got me was the officer…there was a smirk on his face that said ‘I just beat somebody,’” he added, referring to a photo of Anderson’s bleeding knuckles at the scene.
“It’s hard being Black in America,” Sellers continued. “I never would have thought I would say it’s hard being a Black veteran in America.”
It’s worth noting that while Colorado Springs police said an internal affairs investigation relating to the incident is ongoing, the department heads found the use of force in Gadson’s case “to be within policy,” which is just another reminder that the behavior of individual officers isn’t the only problem—it’s the entire system of policing that is a violent, civil liberty-violating mess.
Anyway, according to Daniels, the lawsuit doesn’t specify any monetary amount. He said that will be left to the court to decide.
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