Great Britain

Deaf man sues police he claims tasered him for not complying with commands he couldn’t hear

A deaf man arrested for assaulting a police officer has filed a civil lawsuit alleging he was the victim of “unnecessary force and wrongful incarceration”.

Two years after a 2019 traffic stop in Colorado resulted in Brady Mistic spending four months in jail, his legal team sued the two arresting officers, the city of Idaho Springs, and a Board of County Commissioners.

The lawsuit seeking damages, filed on 17 September, alleges Mr Mistic was “rashly attacked” after officers failed to recognise his disability.

“The [officers] quickly grabbed Mr Mistic, slammed him to the ground, and repeatedly tasered him despite him saying ‘no ears’ to communicate he was deaf,” the lawsuit alleges.

Mr Mistic is deaf and uses sign language to communicate.

Two years ago on 17 September, police attempted to pull over Mr Mistic for running a stop sign, according to police.

Unaware, Mr Mistic pulled into a laundromat and began walking in to do his laundry when officers pulled up and shone a light into his eyes, the lawsuit says.

“Confused, blinded by police lights and unable to hear or know what was going on, Mr Mistic stopped walking, attempted to communicate with his hands, and then put his hands up in a non-threatening manner,” the lawsuit says.

The Idaho Springs Police Department, however, say Mr Mistic resisted arrest; resulting in a serious injury to one of its officers.

Officer Ellie Summers and now-former officer Nicholas Hanning gave verbal commands for Mr Mistic to get back in his car, and then to sit down. They did not know at the time he was unable to hear their commands.

When Mr Mistic did neither, police tried to handcuff him “due to his unexplained actions”.

“Mr Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place. One of the ISPD officers was injured (broken leg) due to the resistive actions of Mr Mistic,” Idaho Springs Police Department said in a statement.

While the lawsuit alleges Mr Mistic was struck twice by a stun gun, the police statement did not mention the use of a taser during the arrest.

Mr Hanning was fired from the Idaho Springs Department after an unrelated incident in which he used a taser on a 75-year-old man. He was charged with third-degree assault of an at-risk adult in July.

The man, Michael Clark, filed a separate federal lawsuit alleging Ms Summers and Mr Hanning used excessive force when they contacted him in his apartment on 30 May.

Mr Clark answered the door holding a sword when the two officers responded to complaints that he allegedly punched a female neighbour in the face.

Body camera footage of the arrest went viral after it was reported by The Washington Post in July. In the video, he can be seen putting the sword down before replying “no” when told to get on the ground.

While Mr Hanning was fired after that incident, Idaho Springs Police said an investigation into the unrelated incident involving Mr Mistic the year before found the officers’ actions were appropriate.

“The officer who suffered a serious leg‐break was former ISPD Officer Nicholas Hanning and the other officer was Officer Ellie Summers, who was in training at the time of the incident,” police said in a statement.

“The District Attorney’s Office for the 5th Judicial District ultimately allowed Mr Mistic to participate in a Diversion Program in lieu of formal charges being filed.”

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