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Colorado Springs Sues ACLU For Over Request For Public Records

In response to a routine request for public records filed by the ACLU of Colorado, the City of Colorado Springs filed suit against the ACLU in state district court in Colorado Springs. The lawsuit asks for a ruling that the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) is not required to release the records of an Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) investigation into allegations of serious police misconduct.

"In this case a patrol officer’s narrative report suggests that a second officer, K.D. Hardy, repeatedly used his full-sized metal flashlight to brutally beat Delvikio Faulkner, African American passenger traveling in a car that was initially stopped for a minor problem with its license plate," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "According to the report, Officer Hardy delivered six blows from the flashlight, including three to the victim’s head. Using a large metal flashlight as an impact weapons poses a substantial risk of very serious injury and even death."

"This is not only a case about alleged police brutality and grossly excessive and unjustified force," Silverstein continued. "It may also be an example of the most vicious kind of racial profiling. The public is entitled to know how the police department discharged its duty to investigate this alleged misconduct. It is also entitled to know the findings and what discipline, if any, was imposed."

The CSPD initially responded to the ACLU request by saying that as a matter of policy it did not release IAB documents under the open records laws. In an effort to persuade CSPD officials to change their view, ACLU staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass supplied a copy of an order issued in an ACLU case by Denver District Court Judge Catherine Lemon in December, which held that a similar policy of the Denver Police Department violated the Colorado open records laws. Judge Lemon’s ruling followed similar rulings in three additional cases in recent years holding that the Denver Police Department must release IAB files to the ACLU under the open records laws.

Last January, in response to Judge Lemon’s order, Denver officials abandoned earlier intentions to appeal and instead announced that they would revise their disclosure policies to conform with the legal analysis in Judge Lemon’s ruling.

"I hoped that sending Judge Lemon’s ruling might persuade Colorado Springs officials that they had a duty under the open records laws to share more information with the public," Pendergrass said. "On Friday I spoke with a representative of the Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office, who said he would send certain police reports but still would withhold the IAB file. He never mentioned any intention to sue the ACLU. I was surprised when a process server arrived at our office with a lawsuit and a summons."

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