Mayoral candidate sues City of Denver over police excessive force incident

Denver, CO, July 15, 2022 – Mayoral candidate and civil rights activist Terrance Roberts sued the city of Denver for police excessive force after being pepper sprayed in the face during a protest. The lawsuit is directed against three police officers, as yet unnamed, as well as against Denver PD Chief Paul Pazen.

The incident took place on July 19, 2020, at the Civic Center, where Roberts organized a counter-protest to a rally in support of law enforcement and then-President Donald Trump. According to the lawsuit, the counter-protest was peaceful. Roberts was leading the crowd while talking on a bullhorn when a police officer approached him and sprayed him in the face. The officer’s action was completely unwarranted as there was no violence or other unlawful activity. Also, the officer did not give him any warning before emptying the pepper spray can in his face.

“When Mr. Roberts was attacked, he was simply leading the crowd in a peaceful protest,” the lawsuit states. “There was absolutely no basis to spray Mr. Roberts directly in the face with (pepper) spray or to inflict any force on him whatsoever.”

No one deserves these types of physical and emotional abuses for doing what we have a constitutional right to do: peacefully assemble to fight tyranny and injustice,” Roberts said in a news release.

What exactly is pepper spray?

Pepper spray is basically a chemical substance derived from red-hot cayenne pepper. When this substance is sprayed on someone’s face, it causes intense burning, inflammation, and temporary blindness. The pain incapacitates the subject and makes them shut their eyes. At the same time, if the subject inhales the substance it causes swelling of the respiratory tract and breathing problems. Symptoms last for at least 45 minutes, after which they start to fade.

Using pepper spray on people with various pre-existing medical conditions is very dangerous and it can even lead to death.

Like batons and tasers, pepper spray is considered a less lethal weapon and it can be used to incapacitate a suspect without resorting to a gun. 

However, there have been numerous complaints of excessive and completely unjustified use of non-lethal weapons, and not just in Colorado.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “increased use of pepper spray by law enforcement has raised serious concerns about whether police will use pepper spray to impose a painful chemical ‘street justice’ without resort to criminal charges or the courts“.

When is the use of pepper spray considered excessive force?

Police officers can use pepper spray to subdue a suspect resisting arrest or for crowd control, but clearly not against peaceful protesters.

If you were unreasonably pepper sprayed by the police, you have the right to file a lawsuit for excessive force. You must talk to an experienced Denver police misconduct lawyer to see if you have a case and what type of evidence you can use.

If there is a video of the incident it can be entered as evidence. Your lawyers may also request access to the footage on the officer’s body cams. They will also look for surveillance cameras in the area and they will interview eyewitnesses.

In such a claim, you can seek economic damages for your medical bills and lost wages, as well as damages for your pain and suffering.

If you were recently a victim of any type of police misconduct in Denver, you should contact an experienced civil rights lawyer at the Bryan&Terrill law firm to see how to proceed with your case.

Contact info:

Bryan & Terrill

333 W. Hampden Ave., #420B

Englewood, CO 80110

(720) 923-2333

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