A man who said he was beaten by two Manitou Springs police officers during a 2009 traffic stop has filed a lawsuit claiming police used excessive force.
Attorneys for Marshall P. Wolfe say he suffered seven broken ribs, a fractured sternum and repeated stun gun shocks after he was pulled over during a seat belt-enforcement campaign by the Manitou Springs Police Department.
A lawsuit filed in May 2010 in U.S. District Court in Denver seeks unspecified damages from Officers Stephanie Courtney and Lindsey Downing.
The suit also names the Manitou Springs Police Department and Police Chief Mary Jo Smith, alleging that she failed to adequately train the officers.
Wolfe, 44, was stopped just after noon on May 19, 2009, as he arrived at his home on Beckers Lane in Manitou Springs after a trip to get groceries, the lawsuit said. Wolfe immediately got out of his car with groceries in his hands and walked toward his wife, who was sitting on the front porch. Courtney and Lindsey exited their patrol car, drew their weapons and ordered him to stop.
The lawsuit said Wolfe panicked and “moved toward the side of his house,” prompting the officers to hit him with their Tasers.
As he lay on the ground, one of the officers allegedly hit him in the face with a second Taser shot that lodged a barb in his nose.
Wolfe said the officers started “jumping up and down” on him as he lay on the ground.
According to the suit, the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office conducted an independent probe and determined that Courtney and Downing used excessive force. District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Lee Richards said she didn’t have access to reports in the case but said the office found “insufficient evidence” to charge the officers.
Nor did the prosecutors find grounds to prosecute Wolfe, court records show.
Although Wolfe was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer, the case was eventually dismissed by prosecutors. Prosecutors also dismissed his two traffic tickets: speeding between 5 and 9 mph over the limit and failing to use a seat belt.
Courtney, a six-year police veteran, and Lindsey, a three-year veteran, remain on active duty, a Manitou Springs city official said. The city administrator’s office did not respond to a phone message requesting comment Wednesday, and a police representative said Smith, the police chief, was on vacation and unavailable for questions.
Wolfe’s attorney, Dan Gerash of Denver, said the suit will likely proceed to a jury trial if no settlement is reached. No trial date has been set.