No charges for Colorado Springs officer, paramedic who played role in death of man in mental health crisis
The autopsy report for a man who died during an interaction with Colorado Springs police last fall says the actions of first responders played a role in his death.
Initial reports from CSPD said 63-year-old Kevin Dizmang was in the roadway when police arrived to a call about someone having a "mental health episode." The response included a crisis response team (CRT), made up of CSPD officer, a community health paramedic employed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and a mental health professional.
Early information about the call said there was a struggle and Dizmang was placed in handcuffs.
Police said he then became unresponsive. Medical personnel gave Dizmang CPR on scene. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The report from the El Paso County Coroner's office, dated Nov. 16, 2022, offered more details, saying police put him in a "bear hug" hold while was lying on his stomach on the ground, according to the autopsy.
The report also said Dizmang had a history of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder and a history of "law enforcement encounters."
Toxicology reports listed in the autopsy found methamphetamine in his system.
Attorneys representing Dizmang's family said he was "strangled while an officer tried to handcuff him, even though he was never under arrest."
The autopsy report said he died of cardiopulmonary arrest and acute methamphetamine intoxication, among other factors, "in the setting of physical restraint." The document says the physical restraint contributed to Dizmang's death.
In a statement, attorneys Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers said Dizmang’s death "bears a haunting similarity to George Floyd’s 2020 murder at the hands of officers with the Minneapolis Police Department."
An investigation by the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office said the actions of the responders involved were justified. Criminal charges will not be filed.
The Colorado Springs Police Department released the following statement in regard to Dizmang's death:
"Anytime a community member dies, we are saddened at the loss of life. We take these events seriously and, in this case, had the Deadly Force Investigation Team, led by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, investigate this event. They then sent the case to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review and determination of the reasonableness of the force that was used. This exceeds the requirement by Colorado law, but we believe it is best for transparency and honest review for our community.
All of our Community Response Team members are highly trained professionals, coming from diverse backgrounds with the goal of assisting our community members who are in crisis and need immediate intervention. The team is comprised of a Colorado Springs Police Department Officer, a Colorado Springs Fire Department Paramedic, and a Diversus Health Clinician. Unfortunately, even with all of the training and expertise on this CRT team, we can’t control every factor involved in an interaction with a community member such as the actions, underlying medical conditions and intoxication of the involved person prior to our involvement.
Unfortunately, even with all of the training and expertise on this CRT team, we can’t control every factor involved in an interaction with a community member such as the actions, underlying medical conditions and intoxication of the involved person prior to our involvement."
Attorneys Daniels and Sellers are also representing a 29-year-old Black man who was allegedly beaten by Colorado Springs police during a traffic stop last year. They have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the three officers involved.
Dizmang's death is now part of a string of excessive force allegations involving the CSPD.
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