Colorado city agrees to settle police beating lawsuit for $2.1 million

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This photo provided by Dalvin Gadson shows Gadson, right, with his attorney, Harry Daniels, April 29, 2024, in Denver. The city of Colorado Springs, Colo., agreed on Tuesday, May 14, to pay $2.1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Gadson, who was punched and kicked by police during a traffic stop in 2022. (Dalvin Gadson via AP)

DENVER – Colorado Springs leaders agreed Tuesday to pay $2.1 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a Black man who was punched and kicked by police during a traffic stop in 2022.

City councilors voted to back the agreement to settle Dalvin Gadson's lawsuit, which still needs to be formally signed, city spokesperson Max D'Onofrio said.

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Gadson was stopped on Oct. 9, 2022, after police said they saw him driving slowly in a car without a license plate. His lawsuit alleged three officers beat him “beyond recognition” and left him with significant PTSD-like symptoms.

After an officer told Gadson to get out of the car, police body camera footage showed him open the driver’s side door, turn his body to face toward them and ask to remain seated inside.

Officers told him to get out because he was under investigation for DUI. But he objected. After that, the camera footage captured 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.

The body-camera footage shows an officer repeatedly punching Gadson from the passenger side of the car. Another portion of the video footage shows an officer kick Gadson once he is pulled out of the car and placed on the ground.

Gadson was originally charged with two felony assault charges and two misdemeanors, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest, but prosecutors soon dismissed the felony charges. The misdemeanors were also later dropped, one of Gadson's lawyers, Harry Daniels, said. In the end, Gadson only had to pay a $15 fine for not displaying a license plate, he said.

"The city should have received a fine. But instead they had to pay $2.1 million for the actions of their officers,” he said.

The Colorado Springs Police Department declined to comment on the settlement.

The department previously conducted a review that found the officers had followed department policy on the use of force. The officers who were sued are still on the job and in good standing with the department, spokesperson Caitlin Ford said.

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