Craig police officers request civil suit from local man be thrown out
The three Craig police officers named in suit claim qualified immunity from Grayson Dennis' claims
Three Craig police officers, through Attorneys Eric M. Ziporin and Betsy L. Stewart from SGR, LLC, asked a judge to throw out the civil suit from former Craig resident Grayson Dennis, who was tased five times in February by the officers, who were responding to a mental health crisis call.
The civil suit from Dennis was filed Oct. 15 by the law firm of Holland, Holland, Edwards & Grossman in federal court against Craig officers Grant Laehr, Joshua Lyons and Daron Hashir. The lawsuit alleges that the officers knew Dennis, 27, was having a mental health breakdown and could not fully understand why he was being escorted to the ambulance by police officers, according to the lawsuit. When Dennis later requested the opportunity to speak with his father and girlfriend, officers refused and continued to move Dennis towards the ambulance, causing him to become upset and worsening his mental health crisis, according to the lawsuit.
According to the suit, Dennis was tased five times by the officers.
In response to the civil suit, Officers Laehr, Lyons, and Hashir said they claim qualified immunity in the incident with Dennis, and claim that their conduct was not maliciously, wantonly, or oppressively done toward Dennis. The response goes on to state that any damages Dennis may have received in the incident were caused by his acts and conduct, not by reason of any unconstitutional conduct by the officers.
Qualified immunity is a legal principle that grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.“
Additionally, the three officers stated that they felt the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances and have reserved the right to add such additional defenses as they become apparent upon disclosure and discovery.
The defense also requested judgement be entered in favor of the officers and against Dennis for attorney fees, and other such relief as the court deemed necessary.
The incident between Dennis and the three officers occurred Feb. 18, according to the civil suit. After calling 911 for help during a mental health crisis, Dennis had fallen asleep and was in bed next to his girlfriend when the officers arrived. After waking, Dennis told them that “he had been having breakdowns, hearing voices, wanted to hurt himself, and that he had taken ‘a lot of different things’ in an attempt to kill himself that day.”
After speaking with Dennis, officers tried to transport him to a waiting ambulance, which culminated with Dennis being tased at least five times, four of which occurred while he was handcuffed, the lawsuit states.
Dennis went into acute respiratory failure after officers repeatedly shot him with tasers, which was captured on body-camera footage recorded by one of the officers. Dennis was then rushed to a hospital over 100 miles away in a flight-for-life helicopter.
According to Dennis’s attorney, Rachel Kennedy, her client does not have a response to the defense at this time.
Moving forward, both parties will have a little over a month to confer before then appearing in court to get a schedule set up for a possible trial.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Glenwood Canyon likely to remain closed for ‘weeks’ as I-70 assessed, repaired following numerous mudslides
Interstate 70 will likely remain closed for several weeks, as Colorado Department of Transportation crews work to assess the extent of damage from several days of heavy rains and debris slides from the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar.