Northglenn man claims excessive force after DUI stop

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NORTHGLENN, Colo. -- A Northglenn man said his bloodied face is why all police officers should wear body cameras.

Damian Thomas was pulled over on 120th Street just east of Interstate 25 about 12:40 a.m. on Aug. 29.

The 32-year-old admitted he should not have been behind the wheel and had been drinking earlier in the night, but he said he would have been happy to cooperate with police if he had been given the chance.

“I started to roll down my window, but they already had guns on me and they said 'hands,' so I just stopped and the door was pulled open, not a word was said, not get out of the vehicle, nothing like that. Just pulled me right out, slammed me on the ground and all I could do was beg them to calm down,” Thomas said.

A selfie taken by Thomas hours after the incident revealed a split lip, a cut above his right eye and facial scrapes after he said a Northglenn police officer slammed him face first into the pavement.

"I had my face bashed in. I can't eat. When I am able to sleep, I sleep for a couple of hours and I wake up in a pool of sweat,” Thomas said.

Northglenn police wouldn’t talk about the incident with FOX31, but the Problem Solvers obtained its account in a 17-page police report.

Notes from one officer said he witnessed another officer, “Escort the male driver to the ground with what appeared to be a straight arm bar. ... I searched the male for weapons and as I did so I observed the male was bleeding from his face."

“Had there been a body camera in that case, (it) could make a huge difference,” said Mary Dodge, a criminology professor with the University of Colorado-Denver.

She said the incident between Thomas and Northglenn police highlights the need for more police departments to add body cameras.

“In this case, we could tell how was this person acting and how was the police officer acting. Was there an excessive use of force in the case and a body camera can show that.”

Police reports suggest officers thought Thomas was trying to elude them when he drove through an intersection and pulled into a Longhorn Restaurant parking lot to be questioned by police.

“At the time, I had no idea why they were so (upset), but after going over it in my head, I understand it was a misunderstanding," Thomas said. "He might have thought I was running but that was not the case."

Thomas said he thought it was wiser to pull over into a parking lot than be questioned by police in the middle of traffic.

"I should not have been driving. I should have to answer for that, but the way I was just brutalized by police, I don't think it's right,” said Thomas, who insisted a body camera would have supported his version of events. “It would absolutely prove if I was argumentative or contentious or if I was trying to run, but that’s not the case.”

A Northglenn police spokeswoman said the department has no plans to buy body cameras.

The Colorado Legislature has ordered the Department of Public Safety to form a task force to study the issue of body cameras. Members had their first meeting in August and plan to meet again Sept. 24.