Colorado Springs Police Department vehicle.

The Colorado Springs Police Department on Wednesday denied claims of racial profiling brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado in a lawsuit, but acknowledged that an officer strayed from department policy.

The ACLU on Monday announced it had settled a lawsuit with Colorado Springs stemming from allegations that police officers improperly detained and searched Corey Barnes, a Black Colorado Springs resident, in May 2018. The city agreed to pay $65,000 to settle the suit, the ACLU announced. The civil rights organization said Barnes was racially profiled in the incident. 

A police department spokesman confirmed that the city had settled the suit, but disputed the ACLU's characterization of the situation. 

“The statement put out by the ACLU of Colorado is a blatant mischaracterization of what occurred and fails to include the facts of this matter," the department said in a statement. 

Police said an officer violated department policy by searching for Barnes' identification "after he failed to comply during an active investigation."

"The officer was rightfully held accountable," the department said. 

Police disputed a broader claim made in the lawsuit that the incident was part of a pattern of racial discrimination in the department.

"However, nowhere in the investigation or in the litigation process was a complaint of racial bias ever sustained," the statement said. "We take full responsibility for our officer’s actions, but what we cannot accept is a false accusation of racial profiling aimed at dividing our community.”


Evan covers justice and public safety for The Gazette. He is a Colorado Springs native and graduate of The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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