The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal lawsuit this morning on behalf of Dwight Crews, a disabled black man who was removed from his home without a warrant in the middle of the night, restrained, forced to the ground, and unlawfully arrested by Aurora police.
On November 14, 2015, Crews intervened to stop his stepdaughter from being physically abused by her husband. The abuser, who is white, then called Aurora police and claimed that Crews had assaulted him and that Crews might have a gun inside his house.
At 2 am, an hour after the incident, two Aurora police officers arrived at Crews’ home and started banging loudly on the front door, flashing lights into the windows, and threatening to kick in the door if he did not come out.
One officer shouted, “You’re going to get a warrant for your arrest if you don’t come down here to resolve this.”
Crews, who had been on the third floor watching television, eventually heard the officers’ banging and came to the door. The officers, who had no warrant, ordered him to come outside. Crews complied and stepped out onto the front porch. The officers then began a physical search of Crews.
As the officers were patting him down, Crews noticed that his cat had run out the front door. He pointed at his cat and said, “My cat’s outside!”
When Crews, whose spine is damaged from a car accident, pointed to his cat, one of the officers threw him to the ground, slamming his body on top of jagged loose rocks.
Crews sustained multiple injuries. Police took him into custody and charged him with resisting arrest and assault against his stepdaughter’s abuser. A judge dismissed the resisting arrest charge for lack of evidence, and a jury found him not guilty of the assault charge, because he was defending his stepdaughter.
The ACLU lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Crews is represented by Silverstein and ACLU staff attorney Sara Neel, as well as ACLU cooperating attorneys Sarah Parady and J. Bennet Lebsack of Lowrey Parady LLC.
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