The city of Colorado Springs, Police Chief Pete Carey and Officer Tyler Walker were sued on Friday in federal court by Alexis Marie Acker, alleging Walker used excessive force when he threw her to the floor while handcuffed on Nov. 21, 2013, in Memorial Hospital's emergency room. ("Case by case," July 15, 2015.)
Walker had taken the intoxicated Acker, then 18 years old, for medical clearance before transporting her to jail on charges of assault on a police officer unrelated to the hospital visit.
The lawsuit, filed by Colorado Springs attorney Shimon Kohn, accuses Walker of excessive force and lying on his police report. While Walker reported Acker kicked him in the crotch, the lawsuit notes a video shows Acker kicked his clipboard instead. "It is clear from the video that Officer Walker's version of the facts is untrue and that his claim of being kicked in the groin is false," the suit says.
The incident caused damage to several teeth and Acker's jaw joint, the lawsuit says, as well as headaches, dizziness, nausea and soreness in her neck and upper back. "To this day," the lawsuit says, "Ms. Acker continues to suffer from intense headaches, dizziness and nausea."
The lawsuit also alleges Walker misrepresented the event to another officer and a sergeant by downplaying the severity of his actions, citing reports that state he "rolled" or "escorted" her to the ground.
The lawsuit says the city and Carey are responsible due to "policies, procedures, customs, and/or practices exhibiting deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of citizens" and have "created and tolerated ... customs ... in a manner amounting to deliberate indifference with respect to the use of force, including potentially deadly force to persons in police custody."
Unlike a demand letter sent to the city in May 2014 seeking $500,000, the lawsuit doesn't state a damages amount. Besides money for medical issues, emotional distress, and pain and suffering from all three defendants, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages from Walker for his "malicious, reckless, willful" conduct.
Walker, who scored a 92 percent performance rating in his January 2014 review, two months after the Acker incident, is the subject of a pending internal investigation.
Asked for a comment on the matter on July 15, Mayor John Suthers says he supports law enforcement and that officers deal with difficult situations and have to make snap judgments without the benefit of "20/20 hindsight."