DENVER (KDVR) — The FOX31 Problem Solvers have learned of a new lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, alleging a Denver cop used unreasonable and excessive force.  

The officer named in the civil rights complaint from May of 2022 is Michael Pineda, a name our team is familiar with.  

Nicholas Munden was attempting to check in to The Art Hotel in Denver and confirm a reservation when the hotel manager asked police to remove him due to complaints from other guests in the hotel. That’s when things eventually escalated and spilled over into the hotel lobby. 

“Mr. Munden had a reservation at the hotel, he arrived to check in. He was waiting to check in and he was approached by the hotel manager alleging another guest said something about him,” Jon Topolewski said, who is representing Munden and is a partner with Robinson and Henry law firm.  

Munden provided a video to the Problem Solvers, which he said the law firm got from the district attorney’s office, which initially charged his client with assaulting an officer. Those charges, he said, were dropped.   

“We believe the Denver Police Department has that video from the hotel but they have not responded to our CORA request for information,” he said.  

This video shows what happened in the Art Hotel’s lobby, minutes after the initial interaction in another part of the building, which is on body camera video not released to the public. In the video provided to us, you can see Pineda deploy his stun gun and eventually shoot it at Munden. 

“By all accounts, Mr. Munden was unarmed, he was not threatening anyone physically, and he was not alleged to have physically assaulted or threaten anyone, which makes the use of force in this case totally unjustifiable,” Munden explained to FOX31’s Joshua Short.  

Pineda shot his stun gun at Munden twice within seconds of each other, according to the complaint. Once Munden was on the ground, Pineda stunned Munden two more times.  

Munden was treated for post-electric shock symptoms, electrical burns and even an acute traumatic injury to his shoulder, which is still bothering him, according to the lawsuit. 

Pineda’s theft case, Munden’s jail time

The Problem Solvers looked into an unrelated case involving Pineda last year in which he was arrested for felony theft. FOX31 has now learned he’s on unpaid suspension, pending the outcome of charges in that investigation.

Munden ended up doing jail time for those initial charges of assaulting a police officer. He’s no stranger to law enforcement. Court documents show he indeed has a pretty lengthy criminal history but his lawyer said that doesn’t justify what happened.  

We asked police about body camera video from the incident and to provide a statement on this case.

“The Denver Police Department does not comment on pending litigation. Officer Pineda is still employed by the Denver Police Department, but is on unpaid suspension pending the outcome of charges against the officer in an unrelated theft case,” the department sent to Short.