ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Anthony Perez said he will always be thankful for his friend, after he decided to record a portion of Perez’s arrest with his cell phone.
“If he didn’t get it you know I would have got charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest and doing all that stuff when I didn’t do anything,” Perez said. “You know just cause their name (Adams County Sheriff Deputies) is more powerful than mine.”
The 20-year-old is suing the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and deputies Curtis Garth and Brandon Neel for excessive force.
Cell phone video from the night of Dec. 3, 2019 shows Perez saying, “I can’t breathe” right before he’s punched in the head by Deputy Garth.
Garth would later claim Perez was pulling on his hand and resisting arrest but Perez and his attorney Matthew Greife said the video showed otherwise.
“What happened to Anthony occurs every single day,” Greife said, who added all criminal charges against Perez for resisting arrest, obstructing a police officer and underage consumption of alcohol were dismissed once the cell phone video came to light.
“When there’s no body cam video out there most people will automatically presume that the narrative from the police is the correct narrative,” Greife said.
The Perez incident started after Garth said he spotted a suspicious vehicle parked near 78th Avenue and Quebec Street in Commerce City at 3 a.m. Perez was one of five friends sitting in the car when Garth demanded their names and date of birth.
Perez provided his information but said Garth became angry with him when Perez asked why he needed to step out of the car after providing accurate identification.
The arrest affidavit written by Garth claimed he “could smell a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle.”
Garth found two beer cans in Perez’s pockets. But Perez’s lawsuit states: “There were not any facts allowing Garth to form reasonable suspicion or probable cause other than his own bias and hatred of a citizen that dared question his authority. Thus, Perez’s arrest was unlawful.”
A Use of Force report was filed in Perez’s case because of injuries to his face but the memo was based on what “Deputy Garth explained” to a superior. The report did not mention a punch to Perez’s head nor was any effort made to interview Perez and no body cam existed.
“They took it and said ‘oh good enough for us.’ They didn’t interview any of Anthony’s friends,” Greife said.
ACSO declined to comment on the lawsuit but did confirm neither Garth or Neel (who deployed a taser on Perez, while he was on the ground) was subjected to an internal affairs investigation.
The department is not currently equipped with body cameras but will be required to use them by July of 2023 thanks to a new state law passed last year.
“Just accountability. I really don’t want an apology from them cause after that night I lost respect for them,” Perez said.