City of Colorado Springs pays $212,000 to settle ACLU racial profiling suit

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Colorado Springs will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in a racial profiling lawsuit.

The lawsuit dates back to October 2016, following a March 2015 incident in which two black men were pulled over by Colorado Springs police officers.

The suit alleges brothers Ryan and Benjamin Brown were pulled over, handcuffed, searched and detained at gunpoint without cause, saying the two were pulled over because they were “driving while black.”

The officer involved said they were pulled over for driving slowly through a high-crime area earlier in the day, but the Browns said they were at home, with their car, during the time Officer Nelson supposedly saw them.

CSPD has agreed to several revisions of its policies, including those covering stops, searches, and recording officers, according to a statement.

On top of that, the City of Colorado Springs has agreed to pay $212,000 to settle.

Video of the 2015 traffic stop has been viewed more than 160,000 times. According to the ACLU of Colorado, Ryan Brown was forced out of the car by officers while recording.

“Pushing his face in the snow, taking the phone out of his hand and tossing it into the snow and stopping the recording,” said John Krieger, Director of Communications for the ACLU of Colorado.

Officers then supposedly ignored Brown’s repeated requests for them to identify the reason for the stop.

Brown filed a complaint with CSPD following the incident, and in June 2015 received a response.

The brief boilerplate letter informed him the department had conducted a “complete and thorough” investigation into the incident and concluded that the officers’ conduct was “justified, legal, and proper.”

“What that meant to us was, not only were they okay with the actions of the officers, when they say that it’s proper, it’s actually what they expect,” said Krieger.

In October 2016, the lawsuit was filed, and six months later, it was settled.

In a statement, CSPD said though they believe the claims of racial profiling were unfounded, the decision to settle “was based on comparative analysis of the high cost of legal proceedings and the risk of financial liability in the event the City did not prevail in every aspect of the lawsuit.”

According to CSPD, they remain committed to “consistent, fair, and even-handed enforcement of the law.”

CSPD said the more than 450 body cameras that have been issued to patrol officers will provide protection to both citizens and officers in these types of cases.

After the 2015 incident, an app was launched by the ACLU of Colorado to make it easier for people to record their interactions with police.

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