A deaf man who communicates with sign language was roughed up by two Colorado officers because he could not understand their commands, a lawsuit filed in federal court alleges.
Brady Mistic said he was slammed to the ground and beaten and electroshocked during an arrest in Idaho Springs, then wrongly jailed for four months despite trying to communicate to officers that he could not hear them.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, said Mistic was accused of running a stop sign in 2019. He then pulled into a laundromat, and walked towards the business, unaware that Officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers were following him.
“As Mr. Mistic exited his car and walked past a dumpster in between his vehicle and the police vehicle, toward the laundry door, he was blinded by police vehicle lights and/or a spotlight shone by the officers,” the suit said. “He had no idea what was happening, what the police were doing, or if the officers’ presence had anything to do with him.”
Mistic, who cannot read lips, used his hands to try to communicate with the officers, to no avail, according to the lawsuit. Harring then grabbed the plaintiff by the shirt and threw him on the ground, smashing his head on the concrete without “warning or attempt to communicate,” the suit alleged.
“Defendant Hanning pinned Mr. Mistic to the ground on his back while Mr. Mistic held his hands out with his palms facing defendant Hanning in an attempt to show that he meant no harm and was doing nothing to threaten the officer,” the document read. “On the ground, defendant Summers joined in, grabbing Mr. Mistic. … Defendant Summers pulled out her Taser and drive stunned Mr. Mistic.”
Mistic is suing the officers and the city of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners, where he was imprisoned.
The department has defended the officers, claiming Mistic approached a “clearly marked patrol car” with emergency lights on.
“The officers gave verbal commands for Mr. Mistic to get back in his vehicle. It was later determined Mr. Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter,” officials wrote on the Idaho Springs Police website.
“Officers then directed Mr. Mistic to sit down. At one point officers attempted to gain control of Mr. Mistic by placing him into handcuffs due to his unexplained actions,” the statement continued. “Mr. Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place.”
Mistic was then looked at by doctors, charged with assaulting officers and resisting arrest, and taken to jail.
The suit claims that Hanning broke his leg or ankle while attacking the deaf man, and filed charges “in an illusory attempt to cover up their misconduct.”
Court officials eventually dropped the charges after Mistic was behind bars for four months without an interpreter, according to the suit.
“The incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate,” the department said, adding his injuries were caused by “resistive actions.”
Mistic is seeking monetary damages for “physical and emotional harm, pain and suffering, permanent scarring, and economic damages.”