Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • 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

  • 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. 

ACLU announces agreement to resolve suit against Denver police officer

The ACLU of Colorado announced today a tentative agreement to resolve a lawsuit its attorneys filed against Denver police officer Timothy Scudder earlier this year. The agreement, which must still be approved by the Denver City Council, calls for additional training, changes in the police department’s Operations Manual, and compensation for the ACLU’s client, Valerie Rodriguez.

“We are very pleased that the Denver Police Department was willing to make changes in policy and training in order to resolve this lawsuit,” said Elisa Moran, who litigated the case as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney. “ The changes will reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future.”

The lawsuit alleged that Officer Scudder engaged in “recklessly sloppy” police work that caused Ms. Rodriguez—who had no criminal record—to be falsely arrested and jailed for an incident with which she had no connection whatsoever.

Ms. Rodriguez was jailed on the basis of a bogus warrant that Scudder obtained nine months earlier, shortly after he took a report of a minor assault at a gas station in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. A young woman told Scudder that she had been struck by an acquaintance who lived in the neighborhood and that the assailant’s name was Valerie Rodriguez.

According to the lawsuit, Officer Scudder searched a noncriminal database for the name “Valerie Rodriguez” and found information pertaining to the ACLU’s client, who did not know the victim and had never lived anywhere near Five Points. Without performing any additional investigation that would have immediately made clear that he had the wrong person, Scudder then wrote up a criminal complaint and warrant application with the name, date of birth, social security number, and driver’s license number of the ACLU’s client.

“Our client was handcuffed, locked in a scary jail cell, and lost a job opportunity simply because she has the same name as the person suspected of the assault,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “The Denver Police Department has now agreed to change its operations manual to make it crystal clear that finding a name in a computer database that is the same as the suspect’s name does not, by itself, provide grounds to obtain a warrant for the person whose information appears in the database. Police officials deserve credit for recognizing a problem and being willing to make changes to address it.”

If the Denver City Council approves the settlement, the City will also make a payment to compensate Ms. Rodriguez and cover her attorney’s fees.

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