The ACLU of Colorado’s Legal Department works to protect and defend civil liberties through litigation as well as legal advocacy outside the courtroom. With five full-time attorneys on staff, the ACLU also relies on the work of dedicated volunteer cooperating attorneys from around the state who are willing to donate their time and talent to assist our struggle for liberty.
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?
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.
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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.
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.
Litigation & Legal Advocacy
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit this morning seeking previously requested records related to the arrest, detention, and subsequent death of Kamyar Samimi, an Iranian man who died on December 2, 2017 while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility, a for-profit detention center....
Howard vs Denver
The ACLU of Colorado sued Denver on behalf of Mickey Howard, who was held in the Denver Jail for 5 days after a court ordered his release upon payment of a $10 bond, because he could not pay an additional $50 “bond fee.”
According to the lawsuit, Denver has a policy of continuing to imprison people who are unable to pay a $50 “bond fee,”....
Canseco v. Mikesell
The ACLU of Colorado sued Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell alleging that he is violating Colorado law by continuing to jail an individual who is eligible for release, at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Leonardo Canseco is charged with two misdemeanors, and the Teller County Court set his bond at $800. According to the....
Cisneros v. Elder
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder is violating Colorado law by refusing, at the request of federal immigration officials, to release prisoners who have posted bond, completed their sentence, or otherwise resolved their criminal case, according to a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Colorado.
Colorado sheriffs have no legal authority to enforce....
Crews v. Gerdjikian (Aurora police excessive force)
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....
Hassan v. Williby (Aurora Police Racial Profiling)
The ACLU of Colorado filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Omar Hassan, a black man who was forcibly removed from a coffee shop by two Aurora Police officers who told him, “Your kind of business is not welcome here.”
According to the lawsuit, on March 16, 2016, Hassan entered a Caribou Coffee in Aurora and approached the counter to purchase a....