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Denver pays another $500,000 for misconduct by police and sheriffs

Denver’s city and county buildings seen from Civic Center Park. September 14, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

In April 2021, Scott Peters was admitted to prison unharmed. According to his attorney Cameron Bedard, Peters later left prison with broken bones, severed arteries, and “permanent disfigurement.”

Now the city is paying Peters $400,000 to settle a misconduct lawsuit with the Denver Sheriff’s Department. In another case, Denver is settling for $100,000 in a case involving the Denver Police Department. The City Council approved both payments on Monday.

The two cases are the latest in a series of multimillion-dollar settlements and jury trials that the Denver Police Department and Sheriff’s Department have paid out in recent years over allegations of misconduct.

Bedard said his client ended up in jail after a concerned citizen called because Peters was sleeping in his car.

Peters’ attorney said that after police and paramedics arrived at the scene, Bedard was injected with a sedative and treated at Denver Health. He was then transferred to the Denver Sheriff’s Department to be booked on a minor drug charge.

Bedard said that after the treatment, Peters was unable to stand or speak due to the sedative and had to be transported to the prison in a wheelchair.

“Officers ordered Mr. Peters to stand up and enter the jail cell. Mr. Peters did not understand these instructions as his mental state was altered by the involuntary sedative injections,” Bedard said in an email to Denverite. “When Mr. Peters did not respond, officers removed him from his wheelchair and dragged him to an off-camera jail cell where at least six officers restrained him on the floor in a prone position while kneeling on his hind legs, holding him by his stomach and applying pressure to his body to keep him on the ground.”

Bedard said when Peters gasped for air, officers interpreted his behavior as resistance and used nunchucks on his client until Peters’ bones were broken and his arteries were severed. Peters then returned to Denver Health to have his injuries treated.

“Today’s settlement compensates Mr. Peters for the barbarism he suffered at the Denver Downtown Detention Center,” Bedard said of the $400,000 settlement.

Denverite has reached out to the Denver Sheriff Department for comment.

In the second settlement, the city will pay $100,000 based on allegations of misconduct by the Denver Police Department.

In that case, which also dates back to April 2021, Denver police officers entered Lidya Ryans’ home after she called 911 about a verbal argument with her husband. According to Bedard, police beat Ryans, arrested her and charged her with assault on a police officer – a charge that was later dropped.

Bedard’s firm, Frank Law Office LLC, is representing both clients in Monday’s settlements. He said Ryans was “treated like a criminal” after calling 911.

“This settlement will not erase the nightmare she and her family experienced,” Bedard said. “But it sends a message to DPD.”

Denver police said the Denver Independent Police Oversight Board was investigating the case.

“An investigation into the incident involving Ms. Ryans was completed under the supervision and with the assistance of the Office of the Independent Monitor,” Kelly Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, wrote in a statement to Denverite. “The allegation of excessive use of force was denied by the IA and no formal disciplinary action was taken, although Officer Bernal Blanco’s use of profanity was addressed through informal counseling.”