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Won't settle for less

Local man rejects city settlement offer, seeks apology, legal expenses

Colorado Springs is seeking to settle a civil lawsuit filed by a man arrested because he allegedly crossed into a "security zone" during a military summit held at The Broadmoor in 2003.

But Brian Hildenbrandt, a geotechnical engineer from Black Forest, says he won't accept the $5,000 offer from the city attorney's office.

He says the amount wouldn't cover the roughly $6,500 he has incurred in attorneys fees, court costs and depositions of officers. The bulk of what Hildenbrandt owes comes from his need to defend himself from the criminal charges that the city dropped roughly a year ago without explanation.

"I've spent quite a bit," he said. "And the amount is rising."

Hildenbrandt went to the corner of Broadmoor Avenue and second Street near The Broadmoor hotel to observe the "security zone" implemented by police during a peace protest of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in town on Oct. 8-9, 2003. Hildenbrandt said he didn't come as an activist, but rather to see if police were hindering freedom of speech.

He and a business associate, Curt Curtis, say they were standing at the edge of an unmarked concrete barricade when a military police officer told them to leave the area. When the two moved on, they were detained, and then arrested by a Colorado Springs police officer.

"I had no intention of sneaking into The Broadmoor or protesting," he said.

Hildenbrandt alleges the arresting officer, Charles Broshous, verbally abused him.

Broshous, who could not be reached for comment, has in recent weeks has been at the center of a departmental scandal. On Nov. 24, Broshous resigned his post and pled guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct. On Feb. 13, The Gazette published an extensive story about Broshous, alleging the officer had inappropriate photographs of men while on duty.

Hildenbrandt says Broshous didn't take photographs of him, but nonetheless wonders if the settlement offer was somehow connected to the scandal.

Colorado Springs senior attorney Thomas Marrese, however, said the offer had nothing to do with the officer. He defended Broshous' actions, as well as those of another former city police officer -- Charles "Mike" Yeater, an undercover officer who had interrogated Hildenbrandt.

The officers "acted appropriately" at the summit, Marrese said, underscoring something the city attorney's office has publicly stated before -- that he considers the case "frivolous."

The city only offered the settlement to "cut off the uncertainty of a jury verdict," Marrese said, adding, "It's certainly no admission we did anything wrong."

Marrese added that the city was seeking to prevent the cost of the case from continuing to rise. Both sides expect the case to drag on for months, even into 2006. Marrese said he did not know how much a civil trial would cost the city.

Hildenbrandt meanwhile has asked the city to take out paid advertisements in local newspapers apologizing for the "claimed loss of his rights" along with fair compensation for his legal tab.

Mostly, Hildenbrandt wants to be vindicated.

"I didn't get a trial," he said. "I didn't get my day in court yet."

In a related case, the American Civil Liberties Union, acting on behalf of peace activists, has also sued the city over the security zone at the NATO summit. Activists say they were prevented from demonstrating on a public sidewalk outside The Broadmoor and from making their views known to delegates at the conference.

-- Michael deYoanna

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