Family Of Man Tased To Death By Colorado Springs Police In 2020 Sues Department And City

Andrea Chalfin/KRCC
The Colorado Springs City Hall.

The family of Chad Burnett, a 49-year-old Colorado Springs man killed by police in May 2020, is suing the city and the Colorado Springs Police Department.

The civil suit, filed late last month, alleges officers responding to what the document defines as a mental health emergency violated Burnett’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

An incident report says four CSPD officers responded to Burnett’s home in southwest Colorado Springs after a neighbor said Burnett had threatened them with a knife and a baseball bat.

Officers said Burnett went in and out of his home several times before they tried to arrest him. The report says a physical struggle then ensued where Burnett was allegedly tased several times and went into cardiac arrest. He later died. 

The family’s lawyers claim the case involves a familiar story of police responding to a mental health crisis with unnecessary violence. 

“Instead of involving a crisis intervention team, police respond with force; and instead of receiving psychiatric treatment, the individual is killed,” Denver attorney Benjamin DeGolia wrote in the complaint. DeGolia alleges CSPD Sergeant Michael Inazu and Officers Joseph Daigle, Matthew Fleming and Caroline Barth illegally entered Burnett’s home without a warrant and engaged in excessive force in the altercation that resulted in his death. 

Burnett’s death was ruled a homicide by the El Paso County Coroner’s office last July, though the 4th Judicial District Attorney later ruled the use of force was justified.

Burnett worked in the local bicycle industry and had started his own mobile bike-fitting business in the months before his death.