City paid $60K in one tasing suit; another complaint seeks up to $1 million against Craig Police
For the Craig Press
Grayson Dennis will be seeking as much as $1 million in compensation for his physical injuries resulting from a tasing incident involving three Craig police officers, significantly higher than what the city paid another plaintiff making similar claims.
The city of Craig agreed to a $60,000 settlement with a man who sued two of its police officers in July 2020 over a tasering episode in July 2018, though the agreement noted the payment “is not to be construed as an admission of liability by the defendants.”
The agreement also said “neither the Incident nor Lawsuit shall constitute evidence of a pattern or practice of peace officers depriving a person of his or her civil rights under the federal and/or state Constitution.”
Plaintiff Croix Orona’s suit accused police of tasing him at his home when they were in his neighborhood looking for someone whose description did not fit Orona’s. Police encountered Orona on his porch and asked him several questions he would not answer before drawing their stun-guns on him, the suit alleged.
“As the officers continued to approach, Plaintiff slowly attempted to open the door of his residence to get away from the threats surrounding him,” the suit alleged. “Annoyed and perturbed at Plaintiff’s refusal to submit to the officers’ unwarranted show of authority, and angry that Plaintiff was attempting to get away from them, the Defendant Officers fired their Tasers at Plaintiff and chased him inside his home.”
After the confrontation moved inside, Orona, allegedly tased again, “went completely quiet and unconscious,” the suit said.
The suit claimed police violated Osar’s First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourth Amendment right protecting him from unlawful search and seizure.
The agreement was obtained Tuesday by the Craig Press from the city in response to the publication’s open-records request.
Neither Craig officials nor the plaintiff’s attorney in the matter would speak last week about the agreement, which includes language forbidding discussion of the agreed-upon payment.
“It is understood that the facts of the case are of public record and are not confidential,” the agreement said. “Plaintiff and his attorneys shall not disclose the amount of the settlement to anyone in any medium other than their attorneys, accountants or other financial advisors as necessary to manage the settlement proceeds.”
“No documents, statements, acknowledgements or interviews will be given to any news organization or entity of any type by Plaintiff, his attorneys, or other representatives related to the settlement.”
Orona signed the agreement Dec. 24, leading to U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello’s signing an order Jan. 24 dismissing his suit on the conditions he cannot re-file the same civil allegations in the future.
Meanwhile on Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher approved a scheduling order in Dennis’ federal case alleging the Craig police officers used excessive force on him when they went to his home in response to his 911 call for help on Feb. 18, 2020.
Dennis’ lawsuit said he was experiencing a mental-health episode and posed danger to himself, and officers escalated the matter by tasing him numerous times and after he was detained and in handcuffs.
In their formal response to Dennis’ suit, police saw it differently.
Dennis yelled at, cursed at, and pulled away from the officers when they were trying to stabilize him for transport. He also spit on one officer, was combative and refused officers’ commands while being warned he would be tased if his behavior persisted.
The magistrate judge’s scheduling order, in summarizing Dennis’ lawyers’ argument, said they will be seeking “compensatory and consequential damages, in amounts to be determined by the jury at trial, but which he anticipates may be as high as one million dollars or more depending on the extent of his permanent physical injuries.”
Those permanent injuries were to Dennis’ heart and shoulder, according to Dennis’ lawsuit, which was filed by the Denver firm Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman LLC.
As well, Dennis is seeking monetary damages for his “future health and medical expenses, in amounts still being ascertained,” and punitive damages for the alleged “wanton disregard of the constitutional rights of Plaintiff.”
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