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$175,000 Settlement to Public Protester with Profanity-laced Sign Tased by Police Officer

One of two men protesting police brutality while carrying a sign reading “Fuck Bad Cops” was tased by a police officer, after which he sued for violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. In December 2018, Joshua Condiotti-Wade was awarded a $175,000 settlement from Commerce City, Colorado, in response to his excessive force suit.

The incident, which was captured on video, occurred on July 28, 2016, outside the Adams County Human Services building. There, Condiotti-Wade and Eric Brandt, clad in lime green shirts, were engaged in a non-violent protest, an activity protected by the First Amendment. However, someone inside the government building became offended and called the cops. 

Officers Chris Dickey and Ryan Sedgwick responded and told them to “pack it up.” Dickey said they were trespassing on private property.

Brandt balked, declaring they had a right to be on public property. And while Condiotti-Wade reportedly did not say anything, Dickey asked him for an ID.  Condiotti-Wade refused, asking what crime he had committed. Dickey attempted to arrest him.

According to Lane, “the body cam shows the cop made a move toward Josh and fell. I guess his shoes were slick, because Josh didn’t do anything to him, didn’t touch him. But when the cop got up, he was pissed, and he and the other cop started chasing Josh and began to fire tasers at him. One of them hit him in the arm, but that didn’t complete the circuit — so he was running around with a taser dart in his arm.”

By then, other officers had arrived, including Commander Mark Morgan, Dickey’s supervisor, who stopped the pursuit. The lawsuit details the exchange:

Morgan: “Why are you chasing him?

Dickey: “He’s under arrest.”

Morgan: “For what?”

Dickey: “For trespassing and disorderly conduct.”

Morgan: “It’s not disorderly conduct.”

Dickey: “When he’s in front of the building yelling, ‘Fuck everybody….’”

Morgan: “That’s not — it’s public property. Freedom of speech. Relax.”

Dickey: “He refused to give his ID…which he’s required to do.”

Morgan: “For why?”

Dickey: “So I can issue him a citation for trespassing.”

Morgan: “It’s not trespassing.”

At this point, Dickey reportedly turned off his body camera audio. That might have been the end to this confrontation, but the Taser remained stuck in Condiotti-Wade’s arm. The barb required surgical removal at a hospital.

According to the lawsuit, Joshua Condiotti-Wade v. Commerce City, Colorado, et. al., Condiotti-Wade “suffered physical and mental pain during the unlawful pursuit, including a puncture wound from the taser barb….”

“... Dickey been the subject of at least five citizen complaints for using excessive force and gratuitously using his taser (for which he has not been disciplined), but he has been a defendant in at least one lawsuit based on his use excessive force (and, particularly, his unreasonable use of his taser) that violated the Fourth Amendment.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the police department fails to properly train its officers. “Between 2010 and 2014, there were at least 250 complaints filed by citizens against Commerce City Police Officers alleging the use of excessive force,” the suits states. 

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Sources: thefreethoughtproject.com, westword.com, reason.com, kln-law.com

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