Mesa County Sheriff Candidate Sgt. Matt Lewis 4th Amendment Violation and Excessive Force Civil Suit Settlement!
In a recent interview by VetTheGov with Sgt. Matt Lewis was asked about Colorado Civil Case number 1:11-cv-02175-RM-MEH where he was personally sued for wrongful arrest by illegal means and using excessive force by surprising the victim with a taser shot to the neck and a hard takedown to the ground. Sgt. Lewis told VetTheGov that he would do the same exact thing given the same circumstances and stood behind his decisions he made to arrest an innocent man on August 21, 2010.
VetTheGov asked Sgt. Lewis if there was an internal affairs investigation performed regarding his actions and he was not sure but assumed so. VetTheGov also asked Sgt. Lewis if a Constitutional violation like this occurred while he was Sheriff how would he respond internally and the question was never really answered as he stated again he would stand behind this event in similar circumstances.
Sgt. Matt Lewis also failed to disclose this incident in his recent Q & A # 5 to the republican party chair Lois Dunn and the vacancy selection committee after Steve King removed himself from the race. In the law enforcement community this is a major violation and should have been noted in his response to the party questionnaire regarding anything else we hear about but has also decided not to release his internal affairs complaint file to the public.
VetTheGov will dissect the facts of the case that was deemed a 4th Amendment Violation by deputies on the scene by Judge Marcia Kreiger Chief US District Judge and then ordered to trial for the additional excessive force and wrongful arrest of the victim on March 19, 2013.
In the rulings by Judge Kreiger she breaks down the days events as follows:
- 911 call received by a neighbor for a possible domestic dispute between a couple at victims house
- Deputies Joesph Crawford and Deputy Corben Telinde were the first to arrive at the victim's residence
- Deputies escorted a crying female away from the residence and asked if any guns in the house and who the female was fighting with. Upon multiple conflicting statements by the female of who the domestic partner was the deputies focused on the victim who seemed very distraught that the deputies were on his property.
- Some verbal discussions were attempted with the victim but he was asking for deputies to leave his property and were not welcomed. The victim was extremely agitated and emotional and told the deputies he did not have a gun.
- Sgt. Matt Lewis and other deputies arrived on scene and Sgt. Lewis took command and positioned several deputies around the victims house with guns drawn.
- With very little knowledge if in fact the victim committed any crime the decision was made by Sgt. Lewis to arrest the victim all while being videotaped by a patrol car dash cam.
- Sgt. Lewis along with Deputy Telinde after approximately 30 minutes on scene approached the victims front door after he retreated inside and staged with Deputy Telinde drew his taser to the ready position. The decision for staging at the door was made by Lt. Wayne Weyler who is also a Brady Letter recipient.
- Sgt. Lewis told the court in deposition that Deputy Telinde was authorized to have his taser ready but Sgt. Lewis stated the decision to deploy was all Deputy Telinde's decision. Deputy Telinde stated in his deposition that he was under the impression to deploy the taser if the victim gave him a clear shot. (Now this is where a true Leader and the on site Commander would stick up for the decisions made of his lower ranking Deputies standing side by side in this event but in this case and testimony Sgt. Lewis throws Deputy Telinde under the bus with his statements that Deputy Telinde acted alone). Interesting to note that Sgt. Lewis never filed a report for his part in this arrest. Sgt. Lewis stated in deposition it was at his discretion. The confusion continues as depositions are taken and the stories begin to change and the inferences and lack of communication and judgement by a so called professional agency show the ugly sides of remembering the event that unfolded between the Defendants and the victim. Let's just say if this is how a professional law enforcement agency operates, then Mesa County citizens WE HAVE A PROBLEM!
Judge Kreiger pre-trial response to motions by both parties are as follows especially regarding the 4th Amendment violation:
- Judge Kreiger points out immediately that the Defendants had different stories regarding probable cause to arrest. Sgt. Lewis testified they were arresting the victim for "domestic assault" along with Deputy Andrew Means. However Deputy Crawford testified he thought they were arresting victim for threats to shoot the defendants. Remember Deputy Crawford first Deputy on scene and first interviewed the battered intoxicated female yet understood the victim was not the suspect.
- Here, the general contours of a person’s 4th Amendment right to be free from a warrantless arrest, unsupported by probable cause, is so axiomatic as to require no particular citation. See Olsen v. Layton Hills Mall, 312 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2002). Under Mr. Brickey’s version of events, he made no threats against the Deputies (or anyone else), and the worst that can be said of him was that he shouted profanities at law enforcement officers from the porch of his home. In Stearns v. Clarkson, 615 F.3d 1278, 1283-84 (10th Cir, 2010), the 10th Circuit noted that “it [is] well-settled that profanity, especially toward police officers, does not” create probable cause to arrest a person even for disorderly conduct, much less any other offense. Thus, the Court finds that, taking the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Brickey, the Defendants’ actions violated his clearly established 4th Amendment rights.
- The Court further finds that the law clearly establishes that police officers cannot lawfully resort to deploying a taser to arrest a non-violent suspect without first giving any warnings to the suspect or attempting to obtain the suspect’s compliance via voluntary instructions. Casey, 509 F.3d at 1285-86.
- As noted above, there is evidence in the record to indicate that the Defendants acted without probable cause in arresting Mr. Brickey, and arguably, there might even be evidence that the Defendants acted negligently in correctly assessing and adapting to the realities of the situation (i.e. by failing to obtain more information when inconsistencies appeared, or by failing to request Mr. Brickey to submit to voluntary arrest).
After Judge Kreiger approved the case forward to trial on March 19, 2013 for the excessive force and arrest without probable cause, within 2 months the entire case was settled and Dismissed with Prejudice Res Judicata and did not go to trial. Since Mesa County was not named in the civil suit, Mesa County citizens, per the Mesa County Attorney's Office, were not responsible parties and therefore no Mesa County tax funds or insurance used in the settlement. However one of the named Defendants Sgt. Matt Lewis now wants to be your Sheriff which should alarm all of Mesa County!
Stay tuned as more information is attempted to be collected. If you have any relevant information regarding this case please contact VetTheGov and your anonymity if requested will be protected please use the contact us section on VetTheGov or feel free to comment away.