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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 SUES PUEBLO COUNTY SHERIFF FOR DISCLOSURE OF RESTRAINT POLICY AND VIDEOTAPE

ACLU Sues Pueblo County Sheriff for Disclosure of Restraint Policy and Videotape

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2000

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today against Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino, arguing that the Colorado Open Records Act requires him to disclose his jail's policy on the use of restraints, including the use of controversial devices such as the restraint board and the restraint chair. The lawsuit also seeks disclosure of a videotape made when Pueblo County Sheriff's deputies strapped inmate Kenneth Bishop into the jail's restraint chair on December 18, 1998. Bishop died in custody shortly afterward.

 

When interviewed by reporters at the time, Sheriff Corsentino said that his officers were not responsible for Bishop's death in the chair. After watching the 30-minute videotape at least five times, he said he was convinced that his deputies followed his department's policies and procedures. "I wish I could show you the video, but I can't show it to you until the internal affairs investigation is done," Corsentino said at the time.

 

When the internal investigation was over, the ACLU requested a copy of the jail's restraint policies and an opportunity to view the video. Corsentino refused. A series of letters from the ACLU failed to change the Sheriff's mind, the lawsuit says.

 

"Sheriff Corsentino assured the public that Mr. Bishop's death had nothing to do with the use of the controversial restraint chair," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "He declared that his deputies followed his policies, but now he won't let the public read those policies. The Open Records Act forbids this kind of government secrecy."

 

According to the ACLU, there is a strong public interest in full disclosure of policies and practices governing devices such as the restraint chair and the restraint board. Prisoners in Colorado and around the country have endured serious injury and death while restrained in such devices, the lawsuit asserts, prompting public controversy, investigations, and lawsuits.

 

A restraint board was implicated in the death of inmate Michael Lewis in the El Paso County Jail in May, 1998, and the ACLU subsequently filed a class action lawsuit challenging the use of the device. In a settlement announced last month, Sheriff John Anderson agreed to halt the use of the board and to permit the ACLU to monitor the jail's use of other restraint devices, including the restraint chair, for the next two years. The ACLU is also negotiating with the La Plata County Jail over its use of restraints.

 

The ACLU says it has had no problem obtaining restraint policies from half a dozen other Colorado sheriffs. "Sheriff Corsentino is the only Colorado sheriff who has not provided his restraint policies after receiving a written request." Silverstein said.

 

In recent years, the ACLU of Colorado has filed two other lawsuits [Police Misconduct at TJ High School, Officers Accused of Manhandling Gil Webb] seeking documents from law enforcement agencies under the Open Records Act. In each case, the ACLU succeeded in obtaining a court order that forced the Denver Police Department to disclose documents connected with an internal investigation into alleged police misconduct.



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