A Denver man is suing the Colorado city for $5 million, alleging that a county police officer was unjustified in slamming him face first into a wall while he stood shackled in a county courtroom.
Anthony Waller filed the suit Tuesday in federal court. In the suit, Waller claims Sheriff’s Deputy Brady Lovingier violated his rights when he slammed him into a metal window frame, according to The Associated Press.
The September 11, 2012, incident occurred as Waller appeared in court for a pretrial hearing involving an assault charge.
Video of the attack shows Waller standing at a podium speaking with County Court Judge Doris Burd.
In the video Waller asks Burd a question and then is approached from behind by Deputy Lovingier. When Waller turns to say something to Lovingier, the officer grabs him and throws him into a nearby wall.
Waller, who appeared in court with his hands and legs shackled to a “belt chain,” could not put his hands up to shield his face from being slammed into the wall.
As a result of the initial attack and a subsequent beating, which is also on tape, Waller suffered a "deep head laceration, closed head injury and left orbital blowout fracture and injuries to his back, neck, legs, arms, ankles, including a hernia and his teeth were knocked out,” according to the court documents filed Tuesday.
It took a year for the department to formally punish Lovingier for the attack, according to The Colorado Independent. The city suspended him for 30 days.
“If he had killed me, would he have gotten 30 days?” Waller said at the time. “I was defenseless. I was addressing the judge, exercising my constitutional rights, and this is what I get? A savage beating?”
Apart from the monetary damages, Waller’s suit also asks that federal courts take over supervision of the city’s jail system.
That system has been fending off a barrage of recent inmate complaints, bolstered by security video footage, that guards at the jail brutalize the prisoners, according to ABC-Denver.
The city recently settled a $3.25 million lawsuit with another inmate, Jamal Hunter, in a case that forced the resignation of Sheriff Gary Wilson, who oversaw the jail for the city.
“The widespread, accepted use of excessive force by the (Denver Sheriff's Department) underscores that the lack of proper training, investigation, discipline and ultimately the lack of effective leadership are deep-seated, ingrained behavior resulting in rampant, continuing constitutional violations that require Federal Court intervention,” Waller’s lawsuit states.
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