A Woodland Park combat veteran is suing three Colorado Springs police officers and a Teller County Sheriff’s Office detective after he was Tazed in the pediatric intensive care unit of Memorial Hospital last year, according to a civil complaint filed this week.
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C.J. Andersen alleges in the complaint the law enforcement officers used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him in the hospital room where his 19-month-old daughter was being treated for serious injuries in April 2019. Damages weren’t specified in the lawsuit, which also seeks attorney’s fees and court costs.
City and law enforcement officials declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
According to the complaint, Andersen’s daughter was airlifted to Memorial Hospital after she was struck by his fiancee's car as she pulled out of the driveway.
At the hospital, Andersen, a former Marine who fought in Afghanistan, was confronted by former Teller County Sheriff’s detective Anthony Matarazzo and Colorado Springs police officers Vito DelCore, Todd Eckert and Carlos Sandoval, who asked for Andersen’s fiancee’s phone, the complaint stated.
They claimed to suspect there was evidence of child abuse on the phone, according to the complaint.
When Andersen refused to give the officers the phone, they grabbed him by his wrists, threw him on the ground and Tazed him twice, the complaint alleged. The officers arrested Andersen on suspicion of resisting arrest and obstruction, although the case was later dismissed by the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office, according to the complaint.
No child abuse charges were filed, said Andersen’s attorney, David Lane.
In police body-worn camera footage, Andersen’s father, who was also in the hospital room, is heard saying to officers: “This is not right—gentlemen please.” DelCore is then heard telling him that he is also going to be Tazed.
“The officers used this violent force and unlawfully arrested Mr. Andersen despite the fact that they had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he had committed any crime, while he was unarmed, was acting lawfully, was remaining calm, and did not threaten any officer,” Lane said in a written statement.
The complaint also alleges the city of Colorado Springs and Teller County failed to properly train officers on how to conduct a lawful seizure, search or arrest and failed to discipline its officers following the incident with Andersen.