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 Clients Resolve Public Housing Warrantless Search Claims for a Total of $380,000

The ACLU of Colorado announced a second settlement this morning on behalf of four individuals who were subjected to an illegal search of their residences at the Suites, a public housing complex in Longmont. The searches were conducted in May 2017 by Longmont police officers and a K-9, at the request of and in conjunction with the Longmont Housing Authority. They were conducted without a warrant or any arguable exception to the warrant requirement. None of the ACLU’s clients consented to the search or were given an opportunity to refuse the search. ACLU clients Alice Boatner, Billy Sparling, Michael Kealy, and Christine Herrera resolved their claims against the City of Longmont in November 2017, when the City paid a total settlement of $210,000, along with additional non-monetary relief. The additional settlement announced today is with the Longmont Housing Authority (LHA) and resolves all remaining legal claims related to the illegal searches.

Key aspects of the settlement:

  • Housing Authority pays $170,000 for damages and attorneys’ fees;
  • Public statement by the LHA acknowledging the constitutional privacy rights of public housing occupants and that – contrary to past misstatements by the housing authority – the ACLU clients did not consent to the searches;
  • Commitment by LHA to refrain from making further statements that justify or mitigate the seriousness of the searches, the harm that was caused, the constitutional violations at issue, or LHA’s role in the searches;
  • Commitment by LHA to issue a letter of apology to the ACLU Clients.
  • Opportunity for ACLU input on LHA policies related to searches.

Statement of ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Rebecca T. Wallace:

With this settlement, our clients can finally close this difficult chapter of their lives and feel that justice has been served. The combined payments and non-monetary commitments by the Longmont Housing Authority and the City of Longmont appropriately reflect the seriousness of the constitutional violations in this case. Through this process, all parties have come to agree that the constitutional right to privacy extends equally to people who live in public housing. We hope and believe that because of the resolution in this case, Colorado law enforcement and public housing authorities will never again join forces to perform warrantless, illegal searches of public housing units. 

Statement of Michael Kealey, ACLU client:

“I’m so glad for this case to finally end with a fair settlement and new rules that will make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to others. It’s nice to have vindication and not just be another statistic.”

*In addition to Wallace, the ACLU team includes cooperating counsel John Culver.



Return to News