WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — A 78-year-old man has filed an excessive force lawsuit against two Westminster police officers who arrested him in 2020.

The lawsuit involves Clayton Shriver, who was 78 years old in the incident.

“We filed this lawsuit because it’s extremely concerning to me that the city of Westminster would ever think it’s OK for one of their young, in-shape police officers to tackle and then tase twice a 78-year-old man, and he suffered some pretty serious injuries as a result of that incident,” Tiffany Drahota, Shriver’s attorney, said.

The lawsuit states that the incident happened on May 15, 2020, at Walmart at 7155 Sheridan Blvd. Shriver was on a shopping trip at Walmart when he started feeling ill and went to sit and wait for his partner inside the store’s fast-food chain restaurant, according to the lawsuit. When Shriver entered McDonald’s, the lawsuit states that he mistakenly sat down at a seat that was designated as a non-seating area due to COVID-19.

The lawsuit states that Shriver suffers from many serious medical and emotional health conditions, including multiple closed head injuries and traumatic brain injuries, memory loss, organic mood disorder, hearing loss, and several other medical conditions.

At that time, a staff member told Shriver that he needed to purchase something or leave the store. Shriver was unable to hear what the staff was saying to him due to his medical condition, according to the lawsuit. Shriver believed the staff could not understand him and he began to raise his voice, according to the lawsuit, and explained that he needed medical help.

The lawsuit states that Westminster police officer Michael Owen, who was already at Walmart for an unrelated reason, responded to McDonald’s due to a call by Walmart loss prevention. The lawsuit says that when Owen arrived at McDonald’s, he observed Shriver sitting in the “no sitting” area while speaking loudly. The lawsuit alleges that Owen was unable to hear what Shriver was saying.

Shriver then provided Owen with his name and said he was suffering from a medical condition, according to the lawsuit.

Shriver said he heard McDonald’s staff complaining to Owen about him, which is when he said he put his arms up and said, “Wait a minute, I’m in terrible pain.” The lawsuit states that Shriver then heard that he was being asked to leave, so he stood up and told Owen, “OK, I’ll go to my car.”

Shriver then started to walk out of McDonald’s, according to the lawsuit, and that’s when Owen grabbed Shriver and threw him to the ground. The lawsuit claims that Owen placed handcuffs on Shriver, who stiffened up in pain and tried to roll over. That’s when Owen allegedly grabbed his Taser and used it on Shriver.

The Taser caused Shriver significant pain, and the lawsuit said he cursed at Owen while trying to pull the probes out of his body.

A second officer, who has been identified as Tyler Farson, arrived on the scene to assist Owen. They attempted to force Shriver’s arms behind his back and formally arrest him, the lawsuit states. At that time, Farson used the Taser on Shriver a second time.

Once the officers had Shriver placed in cuffs, they called for medical personnel to assess him. Shriver was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he was treated for the following injuries, according to the lawsuit:

  • Severe right knee pain
  • Right elbow pain
  • Right knee abrasion
  • Right elbow contusion
  • Punctures and bleeding to his lower back

“I have no idea why it escalated. … I think it was really hard for the officers and the workers to understand him because he’s in the middle of a medical emergency, and so, I don’t think he was clearly communicating, but that was due to his health,” Drahota said.

“I think any reasonable police officer would’ve taken the time to really help him as opposed to tackle him and then tase him twice,” Drahota said.

The lawsuit alleges that Shriver continues to have right hip pain and lacks full range of motion in his right shoulder. He’s also still receiving follow-up care for those injuries.

Shriver was originally charged with trespassing, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest. The lawsuit claims all charges were eventually dismissed.

FOX31 reached out to the Westminster Police Department and was sent the following statement: “We are aware of the lawsuit, but due to the pending litigation we cannot comment on the matter. Neither officer is currently employed by the Westminster Police Department.”

Wednesday evening, the department released this statement and pointed to video of the incident on their YouTube channel:

The Westminster Police Department was notified on January 18, 2022 of a lawsuit filed in US District Court regarding allegations of excessive force by two of our officers.

The Westminster Police Department (WPD) did not receive a complaint of excessive force regarding this case prior to the notice of intent to sue from Mr. Shriver in April 2021—nearly a year after the arrest. WPD takes use-of-force seriously, and upon notice from Mr. Shriver’s attorney, WPD initiated an internal affairs investigation per department policy. The case was investigated by an internal affairs sergeant who gathered the facts, collected evidence, and completed witness interviews. Three independent, civilian witnesses refuted the allegation of excessive force in this case.

These facts were then presented to an independent civilian review board to determine if the officers acted within policy and procedure. The board determined both officers acted within policy and procedure. The investigation was also reviewed by police department command personnel who determined the officer’s actions were within policy and procedure.

Prior to the notice of intent to sue, Officer Michael Owen resigned from the department in February 2021 as a Senior Police Officer. Officer Tyler Farson also resigned from the department in May 2021 as a Senior Police Officer. Both officers left the department to pursue other opportunities and their departure was unrelated to Mr. Shriver. WPD officers were not equipped with body-worn cameras until January 2022. However, the surveillance footage from inside of the store was reviewed during the internal investigation.

We are not able to comment further due to the pending litigation.

Westminster Police Department