(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — A Black Army veteran allegedly beaten by Colorado Springs police during an October traffic stop has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the three officers involved in the encounter.
The lawsuit alleges CSPD officers Colby Hickman, Matthew Anderson and Christopher Hummel violated Dalvin Gadson’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force. Each defendant also failed to intervene in preventing the other defendants in using excessive force against Gadson, according to the lawsuit.
At the time of the Oct. 9 encounter, Gadson, a 29-year-old Army veteran, was homeless, living out of his car as he ran a business selling electronics.
“I was taking all my money from DoorDash, literally, and putting it into my business,” Gadson told ABC Denver affiliate KMGH.
Gadson said it felt like “paradise” to be self-sufficient as he saved up his earnings to eventually afford an apartment.
But everything changed the night of Oct. 9 when a CSPD officer pulled Gadson over, telling him it was for a missing license plate, bodycamera footage released by the Colorado Springs Police Department shows.
After taking Gadson’s driver’s license, the officers can be heard in the video discussing a knife they noticed in Gadson’s cupholder. They also described smelling cannabis coming from his vehicle.
When they return to Gadson’s car, telling him he’s under arrest for a DUI, Gadson responds saying, “no I’m not” and backs into his car. From there, the situation escalates with the officers grabbing Gadson to pull him outside of the vehicle and throwing punches at him.
“It turned into the worst nightmare I could ever imagine,” Gadson said.
CSPD said in a statement that its Internal Affairs division opened an ongoing investigation into the arrest but noted that a separate administrative review found that the officers’ use of force was in line with department policy.
“Mr. Gadson refused to exit the vehicle,” the statement says. “When officers attempted to pull Mr. Gadson from the vehicle he physically fought with officers and on more than one instance re-entered the vehicle in the area of the knife.”
Anderson, one of the officers named in the lawsuit, was previously named in a federal civil rights complaint in 2020 for allegedly wrongfully arresting and using excessive force against a man by wrenching his arm after the man made an obscene gesture. The case was dismissed in 2021.
The officers named in the lawsuit could not immediately be reached for comment. The police department declined ABC News’ request for comment on the lawsuit, citing pending litigation.
Gadson was originally charged with two counts of second-degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, driving under the influence, and driving without license plates. Both assault charges were dropped, and the DUI charge was dismissed in a DMV hearing, his attorneys said.
“If you look at the video, Dalvin is laying on that cupholder. He’s lying on that panel with the knife,” Harry Daniels, Gadson’s attorney, said in an interview with KMGH. “If somebody is beating the hell out of you, I would hope you try to stop them beating the hell out of you. And I mean, try and stop and cover up. That’s not resistant, that’s what we call survival.”
Gadson suffered eye injuries, a ruptured eardrum, and PTSD after the incident, Daniels said. At one point in the video, Gadson is seen lying on the pavement in a pool of blood. Additional photos of Gadson at the hospital also show visible lacerations and contusions on his body as well as his swollen face.
“If you’ve ever been punched in the eye multiple times, it literally sends you unconscious. You can’t see. You can’t hear for some reason,” Gadson said. “I’m looking at my blood on the asphalt and I felt the punches in my face.”
“Sometimes, I just cry watching [the body camera video],” Gadson added. “I have to watch it alone with nobody watching me because it is heartbreaking to even know that that was me that went through this.”
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