Excessive force lawsuit against Colorado Springs Police Department results in $2.1 million settlement

Video courtesy of CSPD
A screenshot from footage captured by a camera worn by CSPD Officer Colby J. Hickman during the arrest of Dalvin Gadson.

Colorado Springs city council voted 7-1 Tuesday in favor of a settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed against the city's police department. 

The $2.1 million decision stems from a lawsuit Dalvin Gadson, a Black Navy veteran, filed following a traffic stop in 2022. In the suit, Gadson claimed CSPD officers “deliberately, knowingly, intentionally and violently” beat him without any kind of prior verbal warning.

The Colorado Springs Police Department disputed the account, saying Gadson resisted arrest for a suspected DUI and was reaching for a knife in the center console. The CSPD conducted two internal investigations on the incident and cleared the officers of wrongdoing both times. Despite the findings, two of the three officers named in Gadson's lawsuit had been reprimanded for their behavior.

After the suit was announced, the police department released footage from cameras worn by the officers involved as well as the arrest affidavit.

In December 2022, Gadson's lawyers said prosecutors dismissed several charges against him related to the incident, including a misdemeanor DUI charge and two felony charges of Second Degree Assault on a Police Officer. He was also charged with Resisting Arrest and Obstructing a Peace Office, both misdemeanors.

The district attorney's office dropped all charges against Gadson in early 2023. Gadson paid a $15 fine for the license plate violation, as ordered by the court.

Colorado Springs Councilman Dave Donelson was the sole no-vote in the settlement agreement.

"I say let's send it to the courts and let the citizens see where the problem is, versus us preempting that and giving a large settlement right here," Donelson said. 

Donelson also said he thinks the settlements encourage more lawsuits against the city. None of the councilors who voted in favor elected to speak.

National civil rights attorneys Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers, as well as Latrice Latin and Kevin Mehr, represented Gadson in the suit. The lawyers released a statement following the settlement, saying it "should stand as a warning to all those who think their badges entitle them to brutalize the men and women they've sworn to protect and serve...You are not above the law and if your own department refuses to hold you accountable, we will."

In October 2023, the firm said the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Civil Rights was considering a federal criminal investigation into the CSPD.

The settlement is the latest development in a string of incidents alleging excessive force by officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department, including a case filed last week by a man seeking $100 million in a lawsuit alleging he was paralyzed after a CSPD officer tased him in 2022.