LOGAN COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Back in October 2020, Sterling Police arrested a man and then hog-tied him after he refused to step out of his doorway, according to a new civil rights lawsuit and new police body camera video obtained by the Problem Solvers.

Christian Weitzel, 30, remained hog-tied for more than 10 minutes until he arrived at the county jail. Now, the Problem Solvers are learning about a new lawsuit surrounding this incident and questions about if the maneuver is even legal.

Lawsuit: No physical altercation

As first reported by the Denver Post, this happened back in October 2020 after police got a call of a domestic dispute. Someone nearby described it as physical in nature and even reported hearing kids screaming.

Once police got there, it took less than 30 seconds before officers made contact with Weitzel, who chose not to comply with officer demands.

An attorney representing Weitzel filed the 19-page civil rights lawsuit against three officers with the Sterling Police Department. The core of the claims is about the decision by officers to hog-tie him.

According to the lawsuit, there was never any physical altercation. Weitzel wasn’t even arrested or charged with anything related to a domestic dispute.

Hog-tie discouraged as dangerous

Seconds after Weitzel was taken down, Weitzel was cuffed, his ankles bound and strapped to his wrists. Back in 1995, the Department of Justice recommended this type of technique should be avoided, particularly because of the possibility of asphyxia or even death. FOX31 did not receive a response from Sterling Police on if this is still allowed within that department.

Meanwhile, court paperwork also delves into Weitzel’s injuries, saying he suffered physical injury, pain and mental anguish.

FOX31 counted several times in the body camera video that he can be heard vocalizing to officers how much he was hurting.

There was no crime, according to the lawsuit. The charges levied against Weitzel after the arrest — disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer — were dismissed by a judge in March of last year.

Civil rights attorney releases statement

Police say that a use-of-force review was conducted, but no internal affairs investigation was launched. FOX31 asked why that was and the status of the three officers involved, Paul McDaniel, Matt Williams and Alton McGuffin.

Williams is currently employed with the Sterling Police Department but McDaniel no longer works for the department. McGuffin works for the Logan County Sheriff’s Office now.

Here’s a statement from James P. Roberts, the civil rights attorney for Weitzel:

This is a disgusting display of the police abusing their authority. Mr. Weitzel did nothing to justify being thrown to the ground or hogtied. Luckily, Mr. Weitzel did not suffer life altering injuries like many who are hogtied in police custody. However, this conduct must be addressed and the officers must be held accountable for their actions. Mr. Weitzel’s hope is that the Sterling Police Department and the Logan County Sheriff’s Office will ban the use of hogties during arrests.

James P. Roberts

Sterling Police also said there was no warrant for Weitzel’s arrest on Oct. 9, 2020, the date of this incident.

Sterling Police Department responds

Here’s the department’s press release:

During the week of October 10, 2022, Sterling Police Department became aware of a pending lawsuit alleging excessive use of force stemming from an incident that occurred on October 9, 2020.  The Sterling Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously.  All members of the organization receive regular training on use of force, and arrest control. 

On October 9, 2020, officers were dispatched to investigate a possible domestic disturbance in the 1200 block of Hamilton St.  The caller described the disturbance as physical in nature and reported hearing kids screaming from the residence.  Shortly after arriving on scene, officers made contact with the residents and a male subject was taken into custody and leg restraints were applied.  Following the incident, a use of force review was conducted.

Sterling Police Department