Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is calling for an investigation into comments allegedly made by police officers during protests and marches in 2020 and 2021. The incidents were captured on body cameras worn by police.
The first video is alleged to have been recorded prior to a Black Lives Matter protest in Colorado Springs on June 2, 2020. The clip was provided to KRCC by a lawyer representing one of the protesters who sued CSPD for use of excessive force.
Earlier this year, the protester — Tara Hadam — was awarded $140,000 in a settlement with the city. In the video, someone can be heard singing and altering the words to the song "We Will Rock You" to include threats of gassing people. Another individual can be heard laughing at the lyrics.
A second recording was captured by the body cam of an officer at a march for affordable housing in Colorado Springs in July 2021. It was provided to KRCC by Jon Christiansen of the Chinook Center, one of the organizers of the march. On that tape, officers allegedly joke about the marchers being stoned to death.
Christiansen said the footage shows that "with no provocation and no indication that any crime is taking place, officers gleefully imagine protesters being violently murdered.”
In a statement, Suthers called both the statements “wholly unacceptable.”
“While local law enforcement was under considerable duress related to protests during those times, the statements are wholly unprofessional and, if they can be attributed to specific CSPD officers, should be fully investigated and be the subject of potential discipline,” Suthers said. “The CSPD has made considerable effort in the aftermath of the protests to ensure officers act professionally in all such encounters going forward, but that does not mean officers who previously engaged in inappropriate conduct should not be held accountable.”
In its own statement, the Colorado Springs Police Department said it is aware of the video and the “unacceptable” comments.
“We have high expectations for how our officers represent themselves and the department,” officials said. “We are reviewing the information regarding this incident for appropriate action.”
The videos are being released as three officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department face allegations of using "grossly excessive force" while arresting a 17-year-old girl in October 2020. Last week, the girl’s family filed a lawsuit on her behalf. CSPD has not commented on that case, saying it can’t comment on active litigation.
More CSPD coverage
- A news report alleges Colorado Springs placed an undercover officer within activist groups. Here’s what we know (and don’t).
- Colorado Springs Police Department has room for improvement but no red flags, use of force audit finds
- Colorado Springs Police Department looking to purchase virtual reality system for use of force training
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