I wrote extensively on a notorious incident two years ago where Aurora Co. police arrested over two dozen motorists, including children under the age of 10, and handcuffed them for an extended period at a surface street intersection. This was based on the suspicion that one of them might be a bank robber. A GPS device in a money bag was sending a signal from somewhere nearby, but the local police did not have access to a device that would pinpoint exactly where it was. The FBI had such a device, but their office was closed for the day. The police opted to arrest everybody at the intersection without anthing resembling probable cause. I use the word arrest deliberately, since the people were held for two hours, could not leave and were handcuffed.
Now, a federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed. The lawyers who filed the lawsuit assert this constituted an unlawful arrest, stating that physical detention over 15 minutes constitutes arrest.Two of the victims claim serious physical injury from the expereince, including one woman whose cuffs were so tight that she lost blood flow to her hands and has nerve damage. That isn’t all, by any means:
60. Mr. Olson attempted to explain to Defendant Ray and the other officers nearby that he had had multiple back and knee surgeries and permanent nerve damage, so kneeling was painful for him. Nevertheless, Defendant Ray continued to scream at Mr. Olson to do so while waving his shotgun near Mr. Olson’s face.
61. Mr. Olson complied, and the pain in his lower back caused him to fall face forward onto the pavement.
62. As Mr. Olson attempted to get up, Defendant Ray yanked Mr. Olson’s arm so violently behind his back while cuffing him that he injured Mr. Olson’s shoulder.
63. Mr. Olson continued to try to explain to the officers nearby, including Defendant Ray, that they were hurting him. Although he was complying with all of their demands, Defendant Ray callously responded, “Quit resisting.”
75. Officers informed Ms. Lombardi that they were going to search her vehicle. They stated that if she refused to let them, she would be arrested.
76. Officers then proceeded to search Ms. Lombardi’s vehicle without her consent.
77. When her handcuffs were finally removed, Ms. Lombardi had deep, red marks on her wrists that were visible for days following the incident.
78. Ms. Lombardi works at a financial institution and is required to be bonded. Ms. Lombardi appeared in the extensive media coverage of the incident with her hands in the air while in the presence of law enforcement. Defendants put Ms. Lombardi’s job and professional reputation at risk.
81. Upon information and belief, Defendants Brandt A. Smith and A. Todd Chanos forced Ms. DeGuzman and her son, Michael Hance, out of their vehicle, patted them down, and handcuffed them, despite having no probable cause or reasonable suspicion that they possessed a weapon or otherwise posed a threat.
82. Defendants Smith and Chanos then marched Ms. DeGuzman and Mr. Hance backwards to the curb and forced them to sit, still handcuffed.
83. Ms. DeGuzman suffered a panic attack. She pleaded with an officer for assistance, but the officer callously told her to simply take a deep breath. As her panic attack continued, the officer did not provide any assistance.
84. Ms. DeGuzman’s hands turned blue due to the tightness of the handcuffs.
85. Defendant Smith demanded that Ms. DeGuzman sign a waiver consenting to a search of her vehicle. She did not want to sign the waiver, but she felt pressured to do so.
86. Officers then proceeded to search her vehicle without her actual consent.
It gets even more interesting.
99. Ms. Strandberg’s son, Ian Strandberg, was seven years old at the time of the incident. He suffered an asthma attack soon after the stop commenced. Prior to being forced out of her vehicle, Ms. Strandberg pleaded with officers to allow her to lower her arms so that she could reach for her son’s inhaler, but the officers callously refused, letting the child continue to suffer through the attack.
100. Ms. Strandberg was diagnosed with Epilepsy in March 2012. She feared that she would suffer a seizure during the stop.
103. Defendants searched Ms. Strandberg’s vehicle without her consent. After the search, Defendants required Ms. Strandberg to sign a form indicating that she consented to the search. She was not permitted to leave the scene until she signed the form.
Notice that police actually threatened the people with continued arrest, and demanded they sign permission statements ex post facto, essentially suborning perjury as well as coercing them to give up a constitutional right that had already been significantly violated. What s especially damning is that much of this occured after the bank robber had already been identified and his car located, since the money was visible in the back seat. At this point, the police are using the mass arrest as a free fishing expedition to look for anything they feel like.
The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The department and city have already rebuffed efforts to settle out of court, so this is going to go before a judge. This may have the potential to go all they was to the SCOTUS. In any event, I pray that the city and police lose this one. What happened that day had nothing to do with rule of law. It was rule of men with guns who could do as they pleased, Constitution and common decency be damned.