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  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

ACLU and Weld County Sheriff Resolve Class Action COVID-19 Lawsuit Concerning County Jail

December 1, 2020

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado and the Weld County Sheriff have come to a resolution of last April’s class action lawsuit over Sheriff Reams’ failure to take adequate measures to protect people in his jail from COVID-19. Reams and ACLU jointly asked the federal court in Denver to enter a consent decree to memorialize the terms of the resolution.

“Last spring, COVID-19 was spreading quickly through the Weld County Jail, and only action by the court and agreement by both parties will change the deadly course of events there,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “With this resolution, people held in the Weld County Jail as well as staff and the public at large stand a fighting chance against this virus.”

The following is a list of key provisions of the proposed consent decree, which builds on, and adds to, the preliminary injunction previously imposed by the court:

  • Medically vulnerable persons are identified when they arrive at the jail, are afforded heightened protections including single-celling when possible, and regular medical monitoring
  • Measures are put in place to promote social distancing
  • Masks are distributed to all persons at the jail, and are required to be used
  • Persons held at the jail receive COVID-19 testing consistent with CDC guidelines
  • With only limited exceptions, through the end of the COVID-19 crisis, the jail does not accept persons charged with misdemeanors, municipal offenses, and petty offenses
  • The Sheriff will regularly advise police chiefs in Weld county to minimize custodial arrests and instead issue court summonses or personal recognizance bonds
  • The Sheriff will provide regular reports to the Chief Judge of the Weld County District Court, so that the court can undertake reviews to consider persons for release from the jail when feasible.

The proposed consent decree also calls for continued data sharing on jail population and COVID-19 infections.

This resolution comes as COVID-19 rates skyrocket throughout the state and officials announce tougher new restrictions including increased social distancing to curb widespread transmission of the virus. COVID-19 cases are rising across Colorado’ s correctional facilities among incarcerated people and staff. There are active outbreaks in several DOC facilities, with more than 1000 active cases among incarcerated people.

“Our state, like much of the country, is in crisis with COVID-19,” said ACLU Cooperating Attorney Dan Williams of Hutchinson Black and Cook, LLC. “We can no longer ignore the role that jails play in this pandemic. This proposed consent decree will save lives.”

The legal team includes ACLU staff attorneys, Killmer Lane and Newman, LLP, David Maxted of Maxted Law LLC, Jamie Hubbard, of Stimson Stancil LaBranche Hubbard LLC, and ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Dan Williams and Lauren Groth of Hutchinson Black and Cook, LLC.

For a list of resources and recent actions by ACLU of Colorado and others to stop the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons go to: https://aclu-co.org/doingmypartco/

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The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.



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