The lawsuit alleges that Colorado Springs officers pepper sprayed and brutalized a 26-year-old woman who was holding her hands over head at the time of the encounter.
A woman has filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Springs Police Department, claiming its officers brutalized her during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.
According to The Colorado Sun, Tara Hadam’s lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Colorado Springs and several individual officers.
In her complaint, the 26-year-old plaintiff claims that she was peacefully protesting outside of the city’s police headquarters when she was repeatedly pepper sprayed and arrested on false pretenses.
One of the arresting officers, Christopher Pryor, later likened the Black Lives Matter movement to domestic terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
The Sun observes that Hadam’s lawsuit is the latest complaint to allege that the Colorado Springs Police Department employed unnecessary force against Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020.
Hadam, for instance, says her hands were raised above her head when Pryor sprayed pepper spray into her face at least four times.
Meanwhile, two other officers put Hadam into a “bear hug,” lifting her off the ground before handcuffing her and taking her to the local jail.
The lawsuit claims that one of the other two officers, David Brockman, sprayed a “fogging device” directly into Hadam’s face after she had already been restrained.
The fogging device, says the Sun, is designed to disperse large crowds.
Hadam’s complaint asserts that officers’ “cavalier use of force reveals and out-of-control enforcement agency whose officers were ready and eager to indiscriminately deploy their weapons against peaceful protesters.”
The Colorado Sun notes that Hadam’s stand-off with police was recorded by several local news networks.
Footage of the encounter clearly shows that Hadam did not act aggressively toward any officer, was on the correct side of the police barricades, and was not brandishing a weapon.
“Ms. Hadam never crossed the barrier demarcating the area set out for protestors. Ms. Hadam stood in a public space, often with her hands held high in the air,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Hadam’s body language and demeanor clearly communicated to the Defendant Officers and all others present that she was there to protest peacefully, express her grievances vocally, and protest within the parameters of lawful demonstration.”
An attorney for Hadam said that the protester’s case is especially compelling because there is publicly available footage of the arrest.
“This was an egregious use of excessive force and it’s a case that really shows the power of the media because a big part of the reason we can prove what happened is because the news media was on the ground documenting what was happening,” said Hadam’s attorney, Adam Frank.
“Ms. Hadam was standing there with her hands held high in the air, clearly presenting no threat to anyone and these officers again and again and again spray her right in the face,” Frank added. “It’s shocking, it’s hard to watch and I look forward to getting justice for [her].”