AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Christopher Mosley asked an Arapahoe County jury to award him $1, and that’s exactly what it did.
The 33-year-old sued Aurora Police Officer Brendan Daves for violating his civil rights when Daves searched Mosley’s car without a legal justification.
According to Mosley’s attorney, he is the first person to successfully sue a police officer under the state’s Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act, passed as part of Senate Bill 20-217 in response to the George Floyd and Elijah McClain protests.
“The new law is great because now it allows for us regular people to have a fighting chance against law enforcement,” Mosley said.
Aurora officer illegally searched car
Mosley was driving to his home in Aurora on April 25, 2021, when he was pulled over for not having license plates on his car.
Instead of writing Mosley a ticket or deciding to have his car towed, Daves asked him to sit on the curb and then searched Mosley’s car without consent.
“I know that I was wrong for not having a license plate, but he knew he was wrong for not doing his job and illegally searching me,” Mosley said.
Daves did find something in the car and arrested Mosley as a result, but the charge was dismissed. The case was sealed after the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office agreed that Daves did not have probable cause to search Mosley’s car.
In the body camera video, Mosley can be heard asking another officer, “Isn’t it illegal for him (Daves) just to search my vehicle?”
Officer Kenneth Preston: “Not if there’s probable cause.”
Mosley: “Well, what’s probable cause?”
Preston: “Not sure. He’s seeing some different things, he (Daves) can explain it to you.”
After a three-day trial, it took a jury just two hours to side with Mosley and award him the $1 he asked for.
Why Mosley sued Aurora officer
Mosley’s attorney, Adam Frank, said the case is about the message — not the money.
“It’s not a catastrophic case. It’s not a massive injury. But those type of situations, day after day, month after month, year after year, that’s what poisons the well between the police and the community,” Frank said.
Frank said he hopes the verdict will lead to better training for police officers.
And while his client only gets $1, Aurora is on the hook for Frank’s legal fees, which he said could easily be $150,000.
“It’s an entirely self-inflicted wound for Aurora. All Aurora ever had to do, when we approach them, was say, ‘You know what? You’re right. Our officer made a mistake. We’re going to take responsibility for it. We’ll cover the small amount of attorney’s fees we’ve invested so far, and we’ll all go on our way,'” Frank said.
“I feel like they just figured nobody would ever stand up to them,” Mosley said.
But the case isn’t over. The city of Aurora plans to appeal.
In a statement to the Problem Solvers, a city spokesperson said: “While the judgment was only $1, the city will be appealing the verdict because the officers were never allowed to testify about their training or the appropriate legal standard applicable to the search in this case.”