COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against a Black veteran who is seen in body camera footage having a physical confrontation with officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Attorneys for Dalvin Gadson have claimed he was viscously beaten by officers after he was pulled over on Oct. 9. Body camera footage of the incident and photographs of Gadson’s injuries were released in December.
Harry Daniels, an attorney representing Gadson, said Gadson is a veteran and was living out of his car. Daniels said his client was giving a man a ride when police pulled them over.
Multiple officers punched and kicked Gadson once he was pulled over, which caused back injuries, facial swelling and chest wall contusions, according to Daniels.
Gadson was initially charged with two counts of second-degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, driving under the influence and driving without license plates.
Gadson entered a guilty plea for improperly displaying the license plates on his car and, his attorneys said, paid a $15 fine.
The assault charges were dismissed in November. All of the other counts against him were dismissed by the district attorney's office on Monday, according to court records.
In a statement, the Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office wrote that the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct state that a prosecutor shall “refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.”
"Galvin was not resisting an arrest," Daniels said Tuesday. "He was trying to resist an assault. Those officers were -- the video shows they were brutal towards him."
For its part, the Colorado Springs Police Department said that officers make arrests based on the legal standard of probable cause and prosecutors made decisions using a different standard.
"The District Attorney’s Office makes their charging decisions regarding the prosecution of criminal cases independent of the Colorado Springs Police Department," a statement from the police department says.
Body camera video captures violent arrest
Body camera video shows an officer pull Gadson's car over. The officer walks up to the passenger side of the car and tells the two men they were pulled over because there are no plates on the car.
He explains to another responding officer that he plans to detain Gadson for a DUI investigation.
According to the arrest affidavit, the officer who pulled Gadson over reported he was demonstrating "unorthodox driving behavior." Before conducting the traffic stop, the officer said, Gadson was driving 15 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone. The document says the officer reported Gadson's speech was "thick-tongued and slurred."
Before the traffic stop in the parking lot escalates, the officer who pulled Gadson over tells another responding officer on body camera video, "I was waiting for you guys to pull him out. Looks like there's a knife in the center console."
Daniels said Gadson had a pocketknife in the car but he never reached for the knife or tried to hide it.
Several officers walk up to Gadson's car again and ask him to get out.
"What am I coming out of the vehicle for?" Gadson asks.
"Uh, we will talk about that, OK? So just step on out," the CSPD officer says.
Gadson opens the driver-side door and puts both legs out of the car. He remains seated in the car.
"We are going to detain you, OK," the same CSPD officer says.
"Detain me?" Gadson says.
"Yep, you are under investigation for a DUI so stand up, turn around, hands behind your back," the CSPD officer says.
Body camera video shows the situation escalating quickly. Gadson tells officers to stop hitting him. Video shows an officer come through the passenger side door and begin hitting him too. This went on for over a minute.
The affidavit says Gadson continued to kick, scratch and punch officers. Officers said Gadson tried several times to pull his arm out of an officer's grasp and reach toward the area of the center console, according to the arrest affidavit.
The same document says an officer struck Gadson in the face with his fist "in an effort to prevent him from reaching for the knife."
The video shows Gadson lying on the parking lot in handcuffs. Pictures from his attorneys show blood and cuts on his face, which also appears swollen.
Internal affairs investigation is still ongoing
Gadson's attorneys have been calling for an independent criminal investigation into the officers’ actions and want them to be charged. They released the following statement Tuesday:
“By dropping the charges, the District Attorney has made it clear that these officers had no reason to detain Mr. Gadson for a DUI investigation much less beat him mercilessly and then smile for the cameras as he lay on the ground bleeding. In other words, this decision means that their actions weren’t just excessive. They were unlawful.
“Chief Adrian Vasquez said that Officers Colby J. Hickman, Matthew Anderson and Christopher K. Hummel did nothing wrong. But the reality is that they brutally beat Dalvin Gadson for a $15 fine and they should be investigated, arrested and prosecuted. Failing to do so puts lives at risk. Just ask Tyre Nichols’ family.”
Colorado Springs Police disputed the assertion that Vasquez said the officers involved did nothing wrong.
"Chief Vasquez has made no determination on the action of the involved officers. As we previously stated an internal investigation is occurring. This internal investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate for the Chief to make a statement prior to its conclusion," their statement says.
The department said Vasquez doesn't review use-of-force cases, but that they are reviewed up through a commander.
All of the officers involved in the arrest are still employed on full duty.
The department said they plan to publicly release the criminal case file within the next day.
The Colorado Springs Police Department previously shared a response to the arrest and said that an administrative review of the officers' use of force found the actions were within policy.
Attorneys for Gadson filed a federal lawsuit in December against the officers for “deliberately, knowingly, intentionally and violently” beating Gadson. They claim he was attacked without any kind of verbal warning as required by the department's use of force policy.
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