Victim of Brutal Courtroom Beating by Police Appeals Lawsuit
A handcuffed man who was severely beaten in court in 2012 by a police officer is appealing a lawsuit against the city of Denver.
Last week a man, Anthony Waller, who had his head smashed into a metal beam by a police officer while appearing in front of a judge in 2012 appealed to the 10th Circuit requesting that it revive his lawsuit against the city and county of Denver for systemic use of excessive force.
Police officers arrested Waller in September 2012 on a “suspicion of a crime.” After the arrest, Waller appeared before a judge at Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center in Denver and questioned the validity of his arrest since the officers failed to produce a warrant.
In the courtroom and in front of the judge, Denver Sheriff Department Officer Brady Lovingier slammed Waller’s head into a metal beam in response. The aggressive act caused a left orbital blowout fracture, as well as a severe head laceration and knocked out some of his teeth, among other injuries.
An Unprovoked Attack
According to Waller’s original complaint, the attack was unprovoked as Waller was never aggressive nor resisting arrest in court. That complaint states: “When Judge Burd finished giving Mr. Waller his Rule 5 advisement under the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure, Mr. Waller began to politely address the Court in a normal and subdued voice as follows:
“‘Waller: I’d like to object to her (the alleged victim) story. If I’m under investigation, I thought the investigation came first, then the arrest came …
“Judge: Right, well they have three day …
“At this point without warning, justification or provocation, defendant Lovingier, who was directly behind Mr. Waller, grabbed plaintiff’s belly chain and shirt, spun Mr. Waller around and threw him face first into the metal frame entrance into the glassed-in court prisoner detention area. As a result of plaintiff Waller being chained and shackled, he could not use his hands or feet to lessen the impact of his face and head being rammed directly into the glass wall and metal post by the defendant Lovingier. Mr. Waller collapsed to the floor, seriously injured.”
In 2014 Waller filed a lawsuit, claiming that his Constitutional rights were violated. Then, in May 2015 the Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) issued a report that identified “weaknesses in the internal investigation and disciplinary process.” As a result of the proceedings, the police department suspended Lovingier for 30 days for excessive use of force.
The judge ultimately dropped the case, however, citing a lack of evidence.
Does Denver Train Police Officers to Be Violent?
After a 10-day trial in May 2017, a federal jury determined that Lovingier had indeed violated Waller’s Constitutional rights, awarding Waller $50,000. However, the jury failed to find the sheriff’s department or city responsible for Lovingier’s actions. They also failed to assess punitive damages against Lovingier.
Waller appealed the decision. Kenneth Padilla of the Denver firm Padilla & Padilla, Waller’s lawyer who assisted in his appeal to the 10th Circuit, stated that the trial court’s previous dismissal of the case was premature and cited several Constitutional amendments that the defendants violated.
U.S. Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz said: “Let’s focus on causation. Where is the causation that what appears to be an unprovoked attack against a shackled prisoner, where is the claim that this was caused by a lack of training?”
Padilla replied, “in his defense Lovingier said that was how he was trained.”
“Now you set a culture that makes deputy sheriffs think they can get away with it, even when cameras are rolling. In fact, Lovingier did get away with it—he didn’t lose his job. This is the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian countries: you beat a man for speaking out in the courtroom,” Padilla added.
Attorney David Cooperstein argued in favor of Denver, saying that Waller and his attorneys should have filed an amended complaint, rather than requesting an appeal.
After much discussion in court, the panel took the case under submission, giving no indication of details regarding the ruling.
The incident can be viewed on YouTube.