The city of Colorado Springs and Police Chief Pete Carey have been dismissed from the federal lawsuit filed by Alexis Acker, who suffered two broken teeth and additional injuries when a police officer slammed her to the Memorial Hospital floor in November 2013 while she was handcuffed.
The incident, first reported by the Independent ("Case by case," News, July 15, 2015), led to an Internal Affairs investigation of Officer Tyler Walker. In September, he was found to have violated the Police Department's use-of-force policy and "discipline was imposed," a CSPD spokesperson said. Walker, son of a retired Springs police commander, is still employed by the department.
In recent months, both the city and Carey were dismissed as defendants when the court ruled "the allegations of the amended complaint are not sufficient to state a claim for relief against the City and the Chief of Police."
That leaves only Walker as a defendant, although Acker's attorney, Shimon Kohn, had previously argued that "the Defendant City of Colorado Springs, through Police Chief, Peter Carey, as well as Defendant Walker's immediate supervisors, developed, maintained and followed policies, procedures, customs, and/or practices exhibiting deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of citizens ..."
In its most recent filing, Nov. 20, the city contended that Acker's claims "are barred as Defendant Walker was a peace officer privileged to arrest without a warrant and was otherwise privileged to exercise his legal rights to make such arrest and to use reasonable force as necessary to effect such arrest."
The city also alleges "the sole proximate cause of the injuries and/or damages alleged were due to the fault of Plaintiff or that her fault far outweighs that of Defendant Walker."
Kohn says the city and Carey could still be named in the lawsuit in the future, because both were dismissed without prejudice. A scheduling conference for how the case will proceed is slated for Feb. 5.
In a related matter, the CSPD says an Internal Affairs investigation of Walker's supervisor at the time of the takedown, Sgt. Mary Walsh, has been completed, but the department won't reveal the outcome. Walsh was investigated for "whether or not she took the appropriate supervisory action in relation to this incident," police have said.
Walsh didn't witness the incident and wrote in her report that Walker "rolled" the uncooperative but handcuffed 18-year-old "out of the chair to the floor." Only after Kohn submitted a notice of claim in May 2014, threatening to file suit, was an IA investigation opened — in July 2014. On July 28, 2015, the lawsuit was filed.
The city has refused to release Walker's IA report pending the lawsuit, calling its release "contrary to the public interest."