Manitou Springs police adding body-worn cameras to uniforms next year

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Manitou Springs agreed this month to a $125,000 payout to a 72-year-old man who alleged that a city police officer tackled him after helping another man break into his home two years ago. 

The alleged civil rights violations — described by the resident's attorneys as bizarre and blatant — came in 2017 after William Michael Clark agreed to let a man recently released from prison stay at his El Paso Boulevard home to help the parolee "get back on his feet," according to a claim letter to the city. 

Weeks later, on Dec. 19, Clark called the police, concerned that the man had begun using drugs again because he was acting erratically.

But police didn't help get rid of the "no longer welcome" guest; instead, then-officer Dylan Settle "wrongly concluded" that the parolee had the legal right to stay in Clark's home and opened a window to usher him back inside after Clark had locked him out, Clark's attorneys wrote in the February 2019 letter. 

When Clark, armed with a lamp, approached Settle, the officer ripped off Clark's sweatshirt. Settle then grabbed Clark and threw him to the floor, handcuffing him so forcefully that Clark's hand bled, wrote the attorneys, of Denver-based Frank & Salahuddin law firm. 

Manitou Springs officials dispute the firm's "characterization of the events," City Administrator Denise Howell said in an email. "Nevertheless, recognizing the costs, burdens, and inherent risks of legal proceedings, the city and its insurer decided to settle all potential claims." 

The city paid $1,000 and the rest of the settlement was covered by insurance, she said.  

Settle wrote in a 2017 affidavit that Clark was "loud" and "disrespectful" when police tried to explain that the parolee had "established legal residency" at the home and that authorities could not lawfully kick him out. Later, as Settle held a bedroom window ajar to let the parolee back inside, Clark hit the officer's wrist with the lamp, according to the affidavit. Clark then struggled as Settle brought him to the ground, chest first, the officer reported. 

Clark was arrested on what initially included three felony assault charges. However, those charges were later dismissed in 4th Judicial District Court, records show. 

Settle is no longer employed by the Manitou Springs Police Department, Howell said. She declined to elaborate on the departure, saying the city "cannot comment on personnel matters." 

Clark's attorneys denied that he lashed out at the officer, saying their client was instead a victim of police misconduct and "excessive" use of force. 

"Defying both law and common sense, Officer Settle insisted the parolee had an unassailable right to be in Mr. Clark’s home," Adam Frank, one of Clark's attorneys, said in a press release. "Confronted with Officer Settle’s blatant misconduct, the city of Manitou Springs has done the right thing."

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