City of Colorado Springs v. American Civil Liberties Union

Criminal Justice | Government Transparency
Case No. 06-cv-2053, District Court, El Paso County, Colorado
ACLU Case No. 2006-07


The ACLU received a serious complaint—corroborated by police reports—that a Colorado Springs police officer repeatedly bashed an unresisting African American suspect in the head with a heavy metal flashlight. To investigate further, ACLU Legal Department staff made a routine request for additional documents from the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), including the records of an internal investigation into the police officer’s conduct. The CSPD replied that, as a matter of policy, it never released internal affairs documents. The ACLU then forwarded a copy of Judge Lemon’s December, 2005, ruling in Nash v. Whitman, which held that a similar policy of the Denver Police Department violated the Colorado open records laws.

The City of Colorado Springs then filed suit against the ACLU, asking the court for a declaratory judgment that it was not obligated to disclose the requested documents. The ACLU filed a counterclaim, asking the court to order disclosure pursuant to the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act.

After a hearing, the district court ruled in favor of the ACLU, holding that Colorado Springs was obligated to disclose the records of the internal investigation into the officer’s on-the-job conduct.


Brandee Caswell
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Steven D. Zansberg
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney

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