The city of Aurora, Colorado, agreed to pay $110,000 to an innocent black man who was tased by police on Feb. 19, 2016 (video below).
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which represented Darsean Kelley, announced the six-figure settlement on July 27, notes KMGH.
Police body camera video of the February 2016 incident shows officers stopping Kelley and another black man who were walking along a sidewalk. When Kelley demanded the cops tell him why he was being detained, the police refused to say.
Kelley shouted, "I know my rights," before an officer fired a Taser into his back, dropping him down on the concrete.
The police were searching for a black man who allegedly pointed a gun at a 6-year-old girl at an apartment complex. Officers had little other description of the man, according to the ACLU of Colorado.
After police tased Kelley, officers charged him with disorderly conduct and locked him in jail for three days. The charge was dismissed after the ACLU of Colorado argued in court that police unlawfully detained Kelley.
The Aurora Police Department ruled that its own officers did not use excessive force in the arrest, and that the incident did not warrant "further investigation."
ACLU of Colorado lawyer Rebecca T. Wallace said the department's actions actually incriminated the department:
That the Aurora Police Department reviewed this incident and gave it a departmental stamp of approval shows the Department is incapable of policing itself. If what happened to Darsean Kelley is business as usual for the Aurora Police Department -- as their own review board found -- then Aurora taxpayers can expect to continue to foot the bill while black and brown men suffer at the hands of police.
ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein said the police department was defiant every step of the way:
The ACLU commends the City of Aurora for its willingness to come to the table in good faith to find a resolution that is fair to Mr. Kelley and beneficial for taxpayers of the city.
However, the decision of the Aurora City Attorney’s Office to fairly and promptly resolve this matter stands in stark contrast to the actions of the Aurora Police Department, which at every turn has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or need for policy change even in the face of public outrage and irrefutable video evidence of misconduct.The Aurora Police Department has no written policy whatsoever explaining when police can and cannot fire their tasers. And the Department desperately needs truly independent citizen oversight to hold the police accountable for wrongdoing.
Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman asserted that the city paid out the money to avoid spending more cash in a trial:
We disagree with the ACLU’s characterization of the events in this case and their unwarranted attack against the Aurora Police Department. This case was settled for the reason that many cases are settled -- to avoid the cost of prolonged litigation. That cost would have far exceeded the value of the settlement.
John M. Krieger, ACLU of Colorado spokesman, told Ars Technica that the police body camera video was the key in winning the settlement.
"The body camera footage was indispensable in securing justice for Darsean Kelley," Krieger said. "Without irrefutable evidence of police misconduct captured on video, it would have been our client's word against multiple officers, and the truth about what happened to Darsean would almost certainly have never come to light."