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Lawsuit alleges Las Animas County deputies tased man 35 times

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Posted at 7:23 PM, May 02, 2023

DENVER — A man is suing the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office after a November arrest where he said he was assaulted and tased 35 times.

Kenneth Espinoza sued Deputy Henry Trujillo and other members of the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 29, 2022, Nate Espinoza said what was supposed to be a normal day in Trinidad with his dad Kenneth Espinoza escalated very quickly.

“We were taking his truck to the shop. We weren't there to bother nobody,” Nate Espinoza said.

Nate Espinoza said he was pulled over by Deputy Mikhail Noel for an alleged traffic violation. Within a matter of minutes, body camera footage showed that things escalated when Deputy Trujillo approached Kenneth Espinoza's truck, which was parked behind his son’s vehicle on the side of the road.

The video showed that both deputies pulled out their guns.

"Time stopped," Nate Espinoza said. "[I was] just feeling everything leaving my body."

A short time later, Kenneth Espinoza was handcuffed and put into the back of a police cruiser when the video showed the father getting tased in the face by Deputy Trujillo.

Lawsuit alleges Las Animas County deputies tased man 35 times

“He was tased approximately 35 times, including once in the face. One of the probes went into his mouth,” Kenneth Espinoza's attorney, Kevin Mehr, said.

Mehr said Kenneth Espinoza was tased by both deputies.

“That’s what Mikhail Noel is doing repeatedly when he has that taser in his hand and he's jabbing it over and over again,” Mehr said.

After the alleged assault, the suit claims Deputy Trujillo went back to the patrol vehicle to get Kenneth Espinoza's information.

Kenneth Espinoza didn't comply after being asked to share some information, and body cam footage showed Deputy Trujillo grabbing him, still handcuffed, and slamming him to the ground. He was patted down and then put back in the cruiser.

The suit alleges police reports made by the officers showed false or minimized statements from that day and goes on to detail Deputy Trujillo’s criminal history.

“I do not believe he is legally eligible to be post-certified and has essentially been impersonating a peace officer for the past 21 years,” Mehr said.

Deputy Trujillo was found guilty of harassment in 1998 and has had multiple restraining orders filed against him.

The Las Animas County Sheriff's Office told Denver7 the district attorney did not file charges against Kenneth Espinoza and his case was dismissed.

Sheriff Derek Navarette said he is using an outside agency to review the actions of the deputies involved. They are both on administrative leave. Sheriff Navarette would not comment on the pending lawsuit.

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