Body cam footage of an Aurora, Colorado, cop tasing an unarmed black man in the back paved the way for the city to pay $110,000 to settle police abuse allegations, the man’s lawyers told Ars Thursday.
Footage from September’s tasing shows two black men being questioned by police who are responding to a wᴇɑρᴏпѕ incident at a nearby apartment building. One of the men is seen and overheard on the video demanding to know why he’s being questioned. “For what… ?” he says.The victim, Darsean Kelley, then appears to thump his chest with his right hand and yell, “I know my rights.” He’s then tased in the back, loses his faculties, and falls flat on his back. He begins screaming uncontrollably, according to the video. Adding insult to injury, he’s also arrested, charged with failure to obey police, and then jailed for three days because he’s unable to post bail.
Body cams and dash cams are increasingly being deployed by police in the aftermath of high-profile ѕһᴏᴏтɪпɡѕ in recent years. They’re designed to record police actions to protect cops from false allegations, and they’re also used for public accountability purposes. In this instance, the video prompted a legal settlement. At the same time, however, police said the video showed the officer was not out of line.“The body camera footage was indispensable in securing justice for Darsean Kelley,” John M. Krieger, a spokesman with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, told Ars. “Without irrefutable evidence of police misconduct captured on video, it would have been our client’s word against multiple officers, and the truth about what happened to Darsean would almost certainly have never come to light.”
The ACLU eventually convinced the authorities to drop the charges against Kelley. Its lawyers argued that their client was illegally detained when he was outside with his cousin. All the while, the Aurora Police Department has ruled the tasing as acceptable within department policy. The city said it was settling the legal claim (PDF) before a lawsuit was filed to avoid the expense of litigation.
Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman said in a statement that the city settled so it wouldn’t have to spend even more taxpayer money defending a lawsuit.
“We disagree with the ACLU’s characterization of the events in this case and their unwarranted ɑттɑᴄᴋ against the Aurora Police Department,” Hyman said Thursday. “This case was settled for the reason that many cases are settled—to avoid the cost of prolonged litigation. That cost would have far exceeded the value of the settlement.”
The police department’s internal review board cleared the cops of wrongdoing in October, concluding that the use of fᴏгᴄᴇ “was reasonable, appropriate, and within policy.” The officer who deployed the electronic device believed Kelley was reaching for a wᴇɑρᴏп.
When officers arrived in the area of the call they found an agitated Kelley yelling at another man and lawfully stopped him. After failing to obey numerous orders, Mr. Kelley was tased and subsequently arrested and charged in Aurora Municipal Court with ACC 94-110(5) Failure to Obey Lawful Orders.
The use of fᴏгᴄᴇ applied against Mr. Kelley was later reviewed by the Force Review Board (FRB). The FRB is empaneled to review uses of fᴏгᴄᴇ to determine compliance with Department Directives, procedures, and training. The FRB determined the force applied in this incident was within policy.
The ACLU said Kelley was not hospitalized. But in its claim for damages, the ACLU said that, because of the incident, Kelley has “developed a deep and lasting fear of the police.”
Watch the video below: