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 Seeks Records Related to Castle Rock Police Shooting

November 20, 2013

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado filed suit this morning seeking Castle Rock Police Department records related to the conduct of an on-duty police officer who put innocent civilians in danger last February when he fired multiple shots from a semi-automatic rifle at the vehicle of an unarmed fleeing burglary suspect.

The suit was brought on behalf of Michael and Susan Cardella, who were sitting inside their parked car when it was hit by one of the officer’s stray bullets.

According to the lawsuit, the officer fired at the suspect’s approaching SUV, then blindly turned while still discharging his rifle and continued firing at the rear of the vehicle as it drove away. The officer fired four to seven rounds without checking for innocent bystanders in his line of fire, which included not only the Cardellas’ vehicle, but also a nearby school, a shopping center, offices, and parking lots.

As the Cardellas watched the officer spin and fire, Mr. Cardella covered his wife’s body with his own, at which point they both felt the impact of the gunfire “slam” into their vehicle.

Mr. Cardella, a veteran of 35 years of police work, evaluates the officer’s use of firearms as reckless, uncontrolled, and unjustified.

“Police officers are entrusted with firearms with the expectation that they deploy them responsibly and only when necessary to stop an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “When an officer’s gunfire puts bystanders in danger, a thorough investigation is warranted, and the public is entitled to know the details and the results of that investigation. Was the officer disciplined? Was additional training ordered? Was the investigation thorough and impartial or was it a whitewash aimed at protecting the officer? The public is entitled to know.”

The Castle Rock Police Department has refused to disclose any documents related to law enforcement’s investigations of the shooting, as well as police reports, witness statements, and dispatch records.

The ACLU’s lawsuit, based on Colorado’s open records laws, asserts that Castle Rock can withhold the requested documents only if disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest.”

“In a case like this, disclosure advances the public interest,” Silverstein said. “The public has a strong interest in knowing that law enforcement is appropriately holding its officers accountable for conduct that unjustifiably puts civilians at risk of injury. “

The ACLU lawsuit was filed in state district court in Douglas County by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Matthew Douglas, Joseph Phillips, and Jeffrey Graves of Arnold and Porter LLP.

View the complaint:

Visit the case page:

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