A lawsuit filed late last week in U.S. District Court reveals that Colorado police brazenly violated the Fourth Amendment rights of dozens of innocent motorists after a bank robbery in 2012 led police on a man hunt.
14 of the 28 people involved filed the lawsuit last Friday, which claims they were “detained, removed, searched, restrained — and terrified” in a “more-than-two-hour mass roundup of innocent men, women and children at a traffic section,” according to TheBlaze. It names the City of Aurora, the police chief, and others as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs had their constitutional rights violated after a Wells Fargo bank was robbed by a man on June 2, 2012. All the police had to go off of was a description of the man and that he fled the bank with cash and a hidden GPS transmitter that was traced to an intersection nearby.
This caused police to respond to that location and “immediately surrounded and barricaded all nineteen vehicles stopped at the red light at that intersection,” according to the suit. It also said that police “had no description of the vehicle in which the robber fled” and “could not even pinpoint from which vehicle the transmitter’s signal was emitted.”
Even so, the lawsuit claims that the officers demanded everyone hold their arms outside of their windows and that nobody was allowed to “shut off their vehicle’s ignition, put their vehicle in park, or lift their parking brakes.”
The suit also says “They brandished shields and pointed assault rifles directly at innocent citizens, including children under ten years old. Officers with police dogs were at the ready. No one was free to leave.”
While all this was happening, police were trying to get their hands on a device that would precisely locate the GPS transmitter and the only place they could get was from the FBI, who is closed on Saturday.
While the cops waited for the handheld device they were ordered to look for and identify individuals who seemed “overly nervous or anxious,” according to the suit. The officers then proceeded to each vehicle with their weapons drawn.
Along with the lawsuit are photos that depict the scene as it unfolded and show the officers pointing their weapons at people while they’re right next to them, even though they were cooperating.
After an hour or more of waiting on the device to arrive, officers ordered everyone to get out of their vehicles, “despite having no probable cause or reasonable suspicion that any particular individual had committed any offense.”
“APD officers … ordered all occupants to exit their vehicles, upon which they patted down most of the individuals for weapons and handcuffed them,” the lawsuit says. “They commanded that every individual sit on the curb for yet another hour, still handcuffed. They searched each vehicle without consent.”
One plaintiff claims he was mistreated by the police while he was detained and they refused to acknowledge he had multiple back and knee surgeries that led to permanent nerve damage, “so kneeling was painful for him.”
An officer waved his shotgun in Olsen’s face while screaming at him to get on his knees. “Mr. Olson complied, and the pain in his lower back caused him to fall face forward onto the pavement.”
When Olsen tried to get himself upright again, one of the officers “yanked Mr. Olson’s arm so violently behind his back while cuffing him that he inured Mr. Olson’s shoulder,” the lawsuit alleges.
Another defendant told the police that she had issues with anxiety and was on the verge of having a panic attack, however she was completely ignored by police.
When the tool finally arrived the police on the scene didn’t know how to use it, however some time later an FBI agent arrived and operated it for them. Two and a half hours after initially being rounded up the police were able to locate the vehicle with the stolen money in it. Once the suspect was in custody the people who were detained were free to go.
The suit seeks compensation for “emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering.”