LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — The father of a 14-year-old girl has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the Loveland Police Department for an incident that happened two years ago.
According to the lawsuit, the incident happened on June 20, 2020. The 14-year-old was dating an 18-year-old and believed he was cheating on her. She then confronted her boyfriend in the parking lot of a Safeway.
“[The boyfriend] responded by telling her that they had never even been in a relationship. She may have thought that they were together, he informed her, but he never did – so his hooking up with other girls didn’t qualify as cheating,” the lawsuit said.
The girl then slapped her boyfriend and left the area.
The confrontation resulted in someone calling the Loveland Police Department. When police arrived on the scene, they interviewed the boyfriend about the confrontation. He told officers he didn’t want to file charges.
The officers proceeded to interview witnesses then drove to the girl’s home.
The officers made several attempts to contact the girl and her father, but they were initially unsuccessful. Later in the day, the officers returned and made contact with the girl’s father.
Eventually, the girl came outside and spoke to officers. She explained what happened and admitted to slapping her boyfriend. At that point, officers put her into handcuffs.
According to the lawsuit, LPD’s handcuffing policy directs that juveniles age 14 and under should “not
be restrained unless he/she is suspected of a dangerous felony.”
Body camera video showed the father stepping away from the bike he was working on and walking toward his daughter. At the same time, the family’s dog started barking and walking toward the officers. The father then told officers that he needed to get his dog and put him inside the house.
“Let me get my dog, I need to get my dog so he doesn’t bite anyone. Let me get my dog, I need to get my dog,” the father yelled.
The father attempted to walk toward the dog and an officer grabbed his wrist. Then the father pulled away and walked back to the area of the parking lot. The dog followed him and he tried to reach for the dog. At that point, the officer pushed the man forward and can be heard telling him to get down on the ground multiple times.
The man did not comply and the officer tased him.
While the officer was putting the father in handcuffs, the daughter can be heard screaming. She tried to move toward her father, but officers continued to restrain her.
The daughter continued screaming telling officers she started her period and needed a tampon. They said no, she could not get a tampon. At one point, she slipped out of the handcuffs and ran inside.
Officers continued to try and restrain the girl.
The lawsuit said that while officers arrested the girl, she received a concussion, cuts and bruises.
Body camera footage shows an officer losing the dog’s leash out of his hand and the dog running toward the officer arresting the 14-year-old. At that point, the officer grabbed the leash with the dog on it and held it up off the ground.
The father can be heard yelling, “you’re choking my dog.” The officer responded, “I’m not choking it, I’m a K-9 officer dude.”
The dog can be heard gagging on the body camera footage.
The 14-year-old was taken into custody and charged with harassment, domestic violence, obstruction and resisting arrest.
The Larimer County District Attorney eventually dismissed all charges against her.
Claims in lawsuit
- Unreasonable seizure, excessive force, warrantless arrest
- Violation of due process malicious prosecution
- Wrongful arrest
Statement from Attorney Sarah Schielke
The attorney for the father and his daughter, Sarah Schielke, released a statement after the lawsuit was filed.
“As a parent, watching this video made my stomach turn. Such senseless, needless violence inflicted upon a child. On the steps of her own home. Over a slap. Over nothing. Let there be no mistake: Loveland is not a safe place for children. Loveland is not a safe place for grandparents. Loveland is not a safe place for pets,” Schielke said.
“The biggest threat to the safety of the Loveland community is – and continues to be – the Loveland Police Department itself. They treat people like animals. They treat animals like trash. They hurt families and destroy lives. And all along the way, they pat each other on the back and give themselves awards for it. They are the worst that policing has to offer. On behalf of the Siers family and the Loveland community, I am going to personally see to it that they are held accountable and forced to change. And that starts with getting rid of every supervisor at LPD who approved of the violence in this video.”
Officers named in the lawsuit
The following Loveland Police Department officers were named in the lawsuit as being part of the arrest:
- Matthew Sychla
- Jeremiah Wood
- Evan Dunlap
Response from the City of Loveland
On June 15, Loveland City Manager Steve Adams announced that an independent review of the Loveland Police Department will be initiated for the June 2020 arrest.
“The incidents were initially reviewed and deemed appropriate at the time of the event, but the city is taking a second outside look at the incident in our efforts to ensure we are policing in a respectful and proper manner,” said Adams. “As we move forward on our accountability efforts launched in 2021, best practices in law enforcement will be maintained and we are committed to accountability if those standards are not upheld.”
The City of Loveland selected Jensen Hughes, a national law enforcement and public safety consulting firm that also conducted an independent assessment of LPD in 2021, for the review.
“I appreciate the difficult, challenging, and often dangerous roles that LPD officers undertake to keep our community safe and I want to express my gratitude to the men and women of LPD for taking on this important work and for continuing in our larger efforts to improve community policing to best serve our community,” said Adams.