DOJ refers beating of Black veteran by Colorado Springs Police for criminal investigation

· Oct. 9, 2023, 5:37 pm
Dalvin Gadson looks on during a press conference announcing a lawsuit against three Colorado Springs Police Officers alleging they beat him during a traffic stop. A handful of protestors attended the press conference in support of Gadson.Dalvin Gadson looks on during a press conference announcing a lawsuit against three Colorado Springs Police Officers alleging they beat him during a traffic stop. A handful of protestors attended the press conference in support of Gadson.Abigail Beckman/KRCC News
Dalvin Gadson looks on during a press conference announcing a lawsuit against three Colorado Springs Police Officers alleging they beat him during a traffic stop. A handful of protestors attended the press conference in support of Gadson.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Civil Rights is considering a federal criminal investigation into the Colorado Springs Police Department following the alleged beating of a Black veteran in October, 2022. 

Last week, October 3, an internal Department of Justice letter asked Jim Felte, Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section to review a complaint against CSPD from Dalvin Gadson that the department racially discriminated against him during a traffic stop that left the then 29 year old with multiple injuries. 

“Given the nature of the law enforcement misconduct allegation,” the DOJ letter reads, “we are referring the enclosed Complaint to your office for review and appropriate action.”

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Gadson has also filed a lawsuit against the three police officers.  

“One year later, (CSPD Chief Adrian) Vasquez still refuses to hold his officers accountable after they beat and bloodied an unarmed man over a license tag infraction,” said Gadson’s attorney, Harry Daniels, in a statement. “Today we are confident that the Department of Justice will begin to correct that injustice and do what he won’t.”

This investigation follows CSPD clearing the three officers of wrongdoing in August.

Gadson was unhoused at the time of the 2022 traffic stop and living in his vehicle. In the arrest affidavit, responding officers said Gadson was pulled over for not having license plates and driving 15 mph in a 45 mph zone. During their initial contact, the officers said Gadson was “thick-tongued and slurred in his speech.”

Bodycam footage released from the incident shows officers forcibly removing Gadson from the vehicle when he expresses reluctance to exit on his own. The ensuing altercation shows Officer Matthew Anderson leveling dozens of punches to Gadson’s head, side and abdomen. Multiple officers then worked to restrain Gadson facedown on the pavement and handcuff his hands behind his back.  

Gadson received multiple injuries from the arrest, including eye injuries and a ruptured eardrum, his lawyers said. Gadson’s attorneys also said prosecutors dropped several charges originally brought concerning the incident, including a misdemeanor DUI charge and two felony charges of Second Degree Assault on a Police Officer.  

The district attorney’s office later dropped all charges against Gadson, though the court ordered he pay a $15 fine for the license plate violation. 

CSPD declined comment on the letter, due to the pending civil lawsuit against the department from Gadson’s lawyers.  

Gadson’s attorney, Kevin Mehr, said in the same statement that the referral signals federal officials are taking the claims seriously.

“The Department of Justice is putting these officers on notice,” Mehr said.

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