COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Police body camera video, released from attorneys and the Colorado Springs Police Department, shows a violent arrest that started with a traffic stop.
An Army veteran was pulled over by officers but ended up beaten, bloodied and in handcuffs. CSPD told FOX31 it is currently conducting a separate internal affairs investigation into the October incident.
The victim has hired a civil rights attorney, Harry Daniels, who said his client is lucky to be alive after officers abused their power during a traffic stop by using excessive force.
Dalvin Gadson, 29, served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged. On Oct. 9, the veteran was captured on video with his bleeding face on the pavement.
“There’s no justification of you having him on the ground, then you kick him and punch him,” Daniels said. “He’s not doing well. He’s very fearful of law enforcement. He literally thought he was going to die that day and was a breath away from being shot and killed.”
Officer throws repeated punches in traffic stop
According to a police affidavit and body camera video, an officer pulled Gadson over for not having plates on his vehicle and for driving 15 mph in a 45 mph zone. As the male officer approaches the car, he claims to notice a knife in the cup holder and calls for backup.
At least two more officers arrive at the scene and the officer approaches the vehicle again with a flashlight. The video shows the officer telling Gadson not to reach for anything and get out of the vehicle. Gadson then asks “why” and the officer responds, “We’ll talk about that.” Gadson then opens his car door and swings his feet around on the ground, telling officers he is going to sit instead.
An officer then tries to grab and pull Gadson out of the vehicle. InOffic the video, Gadson pulls away and attempts to retreat back into the car. Daniels said it was out of extreme fear for his life that he tried to get back inside the car.
“He was completely confused by, you’re stopping me for a tag, now you’re asking me for a DUI check,” Daniels said. “Black men dealing with law enforcement is a different encounter, especially young Black men. Why in America are police officers so afraid of unarmed Black men, we don’t know.”
Daniels said there were no de-escalation tactics used and nobody explained why he was being arrested or what was happening.
Things quickly turned physical, and the video shows one officer throwing repeated punches. Then there is a lot of tussling, scratching and kicking that goes on for about one minute. Video also shows Gadson being kicked in the head by an officer on scene and officers screaming, ”stop fighting.”
“If you look at the video, the officer punched him over 20 times,” Daniels said. “Nothing justifies that. An unarmed man getting pummeled by three officers.”
Ruptured ear drum, eye injury, PTSD
Eventually, Gadson is arrested, but not without injury. Daniels said he suffered a ruptured ear drum, an eye injury and PTSD. Images taken on the ground and at the hospital show a bloody Gadson on the ground, bleeding from his mouth, ear and nose, along with scrapes and bruises on his side and arms.
CSPD said the officers were punching Gadson to prevent him from reaching for the knife. Daniels says it was a “small pocket knife,” which isn’t illegal, and his client didn’t have to react because of all the repeated blows to his head. Daniels claimed Gadson never reached for anything.
On the body camera, you can hear officers say, “Dude, I drew down on him when you were hitting him,” “You’re under arrest, you dumb f—,” and “I split my knuckles too.”
While on the ground, Gadson can be heard screaming and saying, “I wasn’t trying to fight y’all,” and, “What did I do?”
Police actions within policy, but internal affairs reviewing
Colorado Springs Police Administration reviewed the case and found the use of force was within their policy, but there is a separate internal affairs investigation underway.
“It is imperative that we look at all the facts when evaluating officer interactions with citizens. We will respect the ongoing court process but welcome dialogue with our community when we are free to talk about this case further,” Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez stated.
The department confirmed with FOX31 that Officers C. Hickman, M. Anderson and C. Hummel are still on duty.
Gadson was charged with obstruction of a peace officer-resisting arrest, a traffic violation for the missing plates and DUI. The department reports Gadson refused a blood test at the hospital.
Charges for second-degree assault against the officers were dropped by the district attorney. Gadson has a January court appearance for the other charges.
Daniels shared he wants the officers fired and criminally charged, and he is looking to file a lawsuit in the near future.