FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — A new excessive force lawsuit has been filed against Fort Collins Police Services after a 2021 scuffle caught on body camera video.
Officers tried to serve Andru Kulas a ticket for trespassing after someone accused him entering a prohibited section of a bar.
When Kulas refused to take the ticket, an officer pulled Kulas to the ground and eventually used pepper spray within a close proximity to Kulas.
“They should’ve never pulled out the pepper spray,” Kulas said. “There were three people who could’ve resolved this situation easily, and they decided to use physical force and make it even worse.”
An internal investigation into the matter found that not all “available non–violent means had been attempted prior to the use of force” and that there was “no harm in allowing Mr. Kulas to leave the area.” The officer in question was exonerated and no disciplinary action was taken.
“It was the most abrupt inexplicable pivot I’ve ever seen in an investigative report in 13 years of doing this kind of work,” said Sarah Schielke, an attorney for Kulas.
The lawsuit filed on Monday by Kulas’ attorneys alleges excessive force, unreasonable seizure and wrongful arrest.
“I was attacked, it’s not how it should be. You don’t need to be touching people and know where your boundaries are, what the rules are, and abide by those rules,” Kulas said.
Fort Collins police gave the following statement:
“Upon receiving an allegation of excessive use of force related to this case, an investigation was conducted by Fort Collins Police Internal Affairs. The case involved the use of pepper spray by an officer while trying to control the defendant’s physically resistive actions when he was being charged for a criminal violation in the downtown area. The case was thoroughly investigated at the time of the incident. As an additional layer of examination, Chief Swoboda requested an independent review be conducted. All facts of the case were presented to the Citizens Review Board (CRB). The Citizens Review Board is a committee comprised of various community members, appointed by the city council, who render findings and make recommendations concerning officers’ actions related to police policies and procedures. After review, the CRB subcommittee unanimously agreed that the officer should be exonerated of allegations of unnecessary force. The City of Fort Collins and Fort Collins Police Services will contest the lawsuit’s allegations.”Fort Collins Police Services
Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda released a video statement about the incident.
Swoboda said “portions of the video are being played” on social media but he wants to give the whole story, defending the “custodial arrest” as lawful.
“It’s been said that a full investigation wasn’t conducted,” but there were multiple levels of review, he said. A citizens review board determined it wasn’t excessive force.
On Tuesday, police released the entire body camera video online.
He also said that in July, he and the city got a $750,000 demand letter from the plaintiff’s attorney for “quiet compensation.” The offer was “summarily rejected,” he said.