DENVER — Lisa Lebrun always said her arrest for “False Information” was retaliation for complaining to Denver’s Internal Affairs Bureau about being pepper-sprayed. Now the 33-year old mom says she’s been vindicated after a municipal judge acquitted her Friday afternoon of lying to police last October.
“I think they retaliate on anybody who speaks up, anybody who stands up for their civil rights,” said Lebrun, referring to Denver Police and the City Attorney’s office.
Her legal nightmare began October 18th, when she became separated from a friend during Denver’s annual Zombie Crawl downtown.
Surveillance video from a McDonald’s at 16th and Cherokee showed Lebrun being pepper-sprayed by Denver Police Officer Carlos Castillo. The officer was working off-duty that night for McDonald’s and thought he was breaking up a fight between two men that Lebrun had just approached.
Video showed Officer Castillo’s mace missed both men but instead hit Lisa Lebrun in the face, who was friends with one of the men in the altercation.
A city prosecutor tried to argue that Lebrun never mentioned to investigators that a fight preceded her being pepper-sprayed. But again the video showed Lebrun walked up to the altercation only eight seconds before she was maced.
Judge Beth Faragher found that Lebrun didn’t intentionally or willfully mislead investigators because all she remembered was being pepper-sprayed, not who may have been standing near her just before she was pepper-sprayed.
Her attorney, Siddhartha Rathod argued, “Ms. Lebrun was charged because she complained about the conduct of Denver Police and they wanted to silence her.”
Lebrun started crying in court when the judge dismissed the case against her. She says she’ll never go to Internal Affairs again. “There are good cops out there but there`s also a lot of bad cops,” said Lebrun outside of court.
The City Attorney’s Office refused to comment on the judge’s verdict. Denver Police still maintain their officer had probable cause to arrest Lebrun but add the department respects the judicial process and its outcomes.