‘He doesn’t belong here:’ Lawsuit claims Denver police targeted black man from Aurora

DENVER -- A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Denver Police Department, claiming officers violated an unarmed black man’s constitutional rights.

Attorneys for the plaintiff said police body camera video proves their client was illegally held at gunpoint, thrown to the ground and arrested without probable cause.

The case is the latest in a number of lawsuits that have plagued the department in recent years, costing Denver taxpayers millions of dollars, according to attorney David Lane.

The suit, filed Monday, stems from an incident in late April 2016. Body cameras recorded video and audio of the tense moments outside a Capitol Hill apartment building where officers were confronting 47-year-old Deon Jones of Aurora.

“If you put your hand down there, I will shoot you,” an officer could be heard telling Jones on video.

Jones was repeatedly heard telling officers he did nothing wrong.

The video indicates the incident started as officers were patrolling the area and ran Jones’ license plate, showing he did not live in Denver. There were no warrants associated with the plate, according to Lane.

“This car is registered out of Aurora,” an officer said. “He doesn’t belong here.”

Jones said he was legally parked while waiting on a friend.

“I was like, man, are they going to kill me just because I won’t get out of the vehicle?” Jones said.

Jones said he refused to get out of his vehicle because he knew he did nothing wrong. He was eventually tackled to the ground at gunpoint and arrested.

“My initial reaction when I first saw the video is this guy is lucky he’s alive,” Lane said.

Top police brass are familiar with Lane, who has tried similar cases in the past.

“We have no problem keeping Denver in cases because Denver has a horrific history of using excessive force,” Lane said.

Cocaine was found in Jones’ possession, but that charge, along with resisting arrest and disobeying a lawful order, were thrown out in court. Lane said that’s because police crossed the line.

“Once someone questions police authority, the chase is on,” Lane said. “It’s like a pack dog mentality that the police have.”

Jones said he was targeted because he’s black and from Aurora.

“The Denver Police Department has not yet been formally notified of the lawsuit in question," the department said in a statement. "The department asks that the public reserve judgement until all the facts of the case are available. When appropriate, the department will address any public concerns regarding this matter.”

Jones’ lawyers have requested a jury trial. An initial hearing date has not been set.