Two Idaho Springs officers shoved a deaf Colorado man to the ground during an arrest; despite his attempts to inform them, he couldn’t comprehend their demands.
In the lawsuit, Brady Mistic, who is deaf, claims he was unlawfully imprisoned for four months on Sept. 17, 2019. He plans to sue Officers Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers, as well as the city of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners.
According to the lawsuit filed last month, the incident occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. Mistic was accused of running a stop sign before pulling into a laundromat’s parking lot. The lawsuit states that Mistic stepped out of his car and began heading toward the laundromat, unaware that police had followed him into the parking lot.
“As 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 lawsuit says. “He had no idea what was happening, what the police were doing, or if the officers’ presence had anything to do with him.”
In an attempt to communicate with the officers, he stopped walking and used his hands, according to the lawsuit. The report states that Mistic communicates via American Sign Language, and cannot read lips, and can only speak a few phrases. In order to communicate with others who do not know sign language, he frequently writes notes on a sheet of paper.
Hanning allegedly grabbed Mistic’s sweater and threw him to the ground without warning or attempt to communicate, forcing his head to hit the concrete, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant Hanning pinned Mistic to the ground on his back while he 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 lawsuit says. “On the ground, defendant Summers joined in, grabbing Mistic. … Defendant Summers pulled out her Taser and drive stunned Mistic.”
According to the lawsuit, Mistic tried to communicate with the officers by repeating “no ears” in an attempt to explain that he is deaf, but it had no effect.
“Defendant Summers ignored Mistic’s plea and then tased Mistic a second time,” it says.
The Idaho Springs Police Department claimed that Mistic approached a “clearly marked patrol car” with its emergency lights activated, which justified the officers’ actions.
“The officers gave verbal commands for Mistic to get back in his vehicle. It was later determined Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter,” the police department said in an online statement.
“Officers then directed Mistic to sit down. At one point officers attempted to gain control of Mistic by placing him into handcuffs due to his unexplained actions,” the statement continued. “Mistic resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place.”
Mistic was brought to the hospital for an evaluation before being sent to the Clear Creek County jail.
“The incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate,” said the department.
Hanning was recognized as a former officer in the police statement, but no date or reason for his departure was given.
Hanning suffered a broken leg as a result of Mistic’s “resistive actions,” according to Idaho Springs police. But the lawsuit claims that Hanning is accused of causing his own injuries.
According to the lawsuit, Summers became aware of Mistic’s deafness at some time and informed responding cops and emergency medical services. Despite this, Mistic was sentenced to four months in prison for second-degree assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Mistic was denied an interpreter and had difficulty interacting with jail staff members while inside.
Mistic was eventually released and the charges were dropped.
Mistic is suing for monetary damages for physical and emotional injuries, as well as pain and suffering.