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Deaf man sues Idaho Springs police for unreasonable force during arrest

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Posted at 3:44 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 17:47:39-04

DENVER — A Colorado man who is deaf is suing two Idaho Springs police officers, the city, and Clear Creek County for unnecessary force and wrongful incarceration stemming from a 2019 arrest.

Attorneys for the plaintiff, Brady Mistic, filed the lawsuit Friday in US District Court in Denver. Two officers are listed in the complaint, Nicholas Hanning and Ellie Summers. The suit also listed the City of Idaho Springs and the Board of County Commissioners of Clear Creek County as defendants.

The lawsuit claims officers Hanning and Summers attacked Mistic, slamming him to the ground, after he failed to comply with the officers’ verbal commands, because he could not hear them, during a traffic stop on September 17, 2019 in Idaho Springs.

Attorneys further allege police falsely charged Mistic with assault on a police officer to cover up their misconduct, and he spent four months in jail. The charges were eventually dropped.

The incident started after Mistic allegedly ran a stop sign. Mistic drove into a shopping complex to do laundry, and the two officers, parked near the scene, followed Mistic into the shopping center and shined a blinding light on the man, according to the lawsuit.

“Confused, blinded by police lights, and unable to hear or know what was going on, Mr. Mistic stopped walking, attempted to communicate with his hands, and then put his hands up in a non-threatening manner,” the lawsuit read.

The suit then claims that Hanning and Summers slammed Mistic to the ground without warning and failed to identify Mistic’s attempts to communicate to them that he is deaf and uses sign language.

Mistic was arrested and taken to Clear Creek County Jail, where he spent the next four months behind bars for the charge of assaulting a police officer, which was later dropped. While in jail, the suit claims Mistic was repeatedly denied an interpreter or other reasonable means of communication.

In a statement published on the city’s website, the Idaho Springs Police Department said the officers were not aware, during the initial encounter, that Mistic is deaf. Police said that officer Hanning suffered a broken leg “due to the resistive actions of Mr. Mistic.” Police said the district attorney’s office ultimately allowed Mistic to participate in a diversion program in lieu of formal charges being filed.

Both officers named in the suit were involved in a May encounter with a 75-year-old man that left the man injured. Hanning was fired and later charged with assault. Summers received internal disciplinary action.