DENVER — A Denver District Court awarded $3.6 million to Carolyn O’Neal; the damages stem from a series of civil rights violations by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department.
Court documents say Sheriff’s deputies falsely arrested O’Neal for cursing at them.
During the 2014 arrest, they forcibly dragged her from New Creations Inn – a homeless transitional housing program in Canon City -after reports O’Neal made a suicidal threat.
“The police were called by management, her mother was dying, she was depressed, and she made some offhand statement about ‘Things are going so great, I feel like I should drive my car off a cliff,’ said O’Neal’s attorney, David Lane, who added that his client suffers from PTSD, among other mental health issues.
Deputies then jailed her while she remained naked and restrained her for hours while they tased her.
A lawsuit filed against the Sheriff’s department for violating O’Neal’s rights says deputies later admitted O’Neal should have been taken to a hospital and not jail.
O’Neal was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for “offensive utterances.”
A judge eventually dismissed those charges.
A 10-minute video provided by Lane shows deputies try to restrain O’Neal’s legs and proceed to tase her.
A jury agreed with O’Neal and her lawyer that the Fremont County deputies violated her rights by falsely arresting her and using excessive force on several occasions.
“They offered to settle this case a week and a half before trial for $20,000. It’s now going to cost taxpayers in Fremont County. Instead of settling the case for a reasonable amount, they’re going to pay $3.6 million,” said Lane.