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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 Wins Dismissal of Criminal Charges against Ryan Brown, Renews Call for Internal Affairs Records Related to Racially-Biased Traffic Stop

9/25/15

DENVER –The ACLU of Colorado renewed its request today for records related to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s internal affairs investigation into the traffic stop of Ryan and Benjamin Brown, two ACLU clients who were pulled over, handcuffed, searched, and detained at gun point and taser point over a cracked windshield.

The ACLU’s request follows a decision yesterday by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office to dismiss an obstruction charge against Ryan Brown, whose video recording of the traffic stop has been viewed more than 155,000 times on YouTube.

Brown filed a complaint with the department following the incident in March.  He received a brief boilerplate letter in June informing him that police had conducted a “complete and thorough” investigation into the incident and concluded that the officers’ conduct was “justified, legal, and proper.”  A subsequent ACLU records request for the internal affairs file was denied due to the pending criminal charge against Brown.

“Now that the criminal charge has been rightly dismissed, there are no more excuses for denying the internal affairs records,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “The public has a right to know how the Colorado Springs Police Department determined that it was ‘justified, legal, and proper’ to remove two African-American men from a car at gunpoint and taser point, handcuff them, search them and detain them, over a cracked windshield.”

Ryan and Benjamin Brown were driving just a block away from their home when they were pulled over by Colorado Springs police.  After a taser-wielding officer ordered Benjamin Brown, the driver, out of the car, he was handcuffed, searched without cause, and detained in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in a crime.

Ryan Brown then began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the stop were ignored.  Officers worked together to force him out of the car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.

While dragging Ryan Brown out of the car, officers on the video are heard saying that he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons.  No weapons were found.  Officers took his phone, turned off the video, and threw it in the snow.

Benjamin Brown was cited for a cracked windshield, and Ryan Brown was charged with “interfering with official police duties.”  The ACLU defended the Browns in criminal court and yesterday won a complete dismissal of Ryan Brown’s charge.

“The ACLU has maintained from the beginning that Ryan did not commit any crime,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Megan Downing of Recht Kornfeld PC. “We are very pleased that the District Attorney’s Office did a thorough review of the facts and in the end, full dismissal was the right result.”

Resources:

Watch Ryan Brown’s video recording of the stop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkvPlxps7zo

Read the letter from the Colorado Springs Police Department clearing the officers of wrongdoing: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-06-08-Brown-Cmdr.-Howard-IA-Investigation-Decision-REDACTED.pdf

Visit the ACLU case page: https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/colorado-springs-racial-profiling/



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