Two Idaho Springs officers purportedly assaulted Colorado resident Brady Mistic, who is deaf, for not responding to their verbal commands.
A Colorado man who is deaf has filed a lawsuit after two Idaho Springs police officers threw him onto the ground during an arrest, despite his repeated attempts to tell him that he could not understand what they were saying.
According to NBC News, plaintiff Brady Mistic says that he was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly four months after the September 17, 2019, encounter.
His lawsuit names as defendants the city of Idaho Springs, the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners, and Officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers.
Mistic’s complaint, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court, recalls how the incident began. Around 7:30pm, Mistic allegedly ran a stop sign before turning into the parking lot of an Idaho Springs laundromat.
Mistic, says the lawsuit, did not realize that police had followed him into the parking lot.
Unable to hear the officers’ commands, Mistic got out of his vehicle and started working toward the laundromat.
“As Mr. Mistic excited his car and walked past a dumpster in between his vehicle and the police vehicle, toward the laundry door, he was blinded by police lights and/or a spotlight shone by the officers,” the lawsuit states. “He had no idea what was happening, what the police were doing, or if the officers’ presence had anything to do with him.”
Mistic, adds NBC News, stopped walking, and then tried to use his hands to communicate with the officers. According to the complaint, Mistic uses American Sign Language; he can vocalize few words, and cannot read lips.
While Mistic tied to convey his intent to police, Officer Hanning, without “warning or attempt to communicate,” grabbed Mistic by his sweatshirt and threw him onto the ground, whereupon Mistic’s head hit concrete.
“Defendant Hanning pinned Mr. Mistic to the ground on his back while Mr. Mistic held his hands out with his palms facing defendant Hanning in an attempt to show that he meant no harm and was doing nothing to threaten the officer,” the lawsuit says. “On the ground, defendant Summers joined in, grabbing Mr. Mistic […] Defendant Summers pulled out her Taser and drive stunned Mr. Mistic.”
All the while, Mistic tried to communicate with officers by saying “no ears.”
But Mistic’s pleas were ignored by officers, who continued to tase him.
The Idaho Springs Police Department has issued a statement apparently defending the officers’ conduct, suggesting their use of force was justified because they did not know Mistic was deaf.
“The officers gave verbal commands for Mr. Mistic to get back in his vehicle. It was later determined Mr. Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter,” the department said in a statement.
“Officers then directed Mr. Mistic to sit down. At one point officers attempted to gain control of Mr. Mistic by placing him into handcuffs due to his unexpected actions,” the statement says. “Mr. Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place.”
Unsurprisingly, a review—conducted by none other than the department’s former chief, Christian Malanka—found that the officers’ decision to use physical force in restraining a suspect who had simply not acknowledged their commands was justified and appropriate.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for physical and emotional harm as well as pain and suffering.