Black Guy Sues After Sergeant Stun-guns Him While Shackled

According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, a Black man who was totally tied in a chair when a white sheriff’s sergeant in Boulder County, Colorado, used a Taser on him claims that race was a “motivating factor” in the decision to use excessive force.
Plaintiff Travis Cole alleges that an event on the evening of September 21, 2020, at the Boulder County Jail has left him terrified and wary of law enforcement.

Cole, 34, told NBC News on Monday, “I had a fine respect for officers of the law, but now I have a fear.” I don’t think their mission is to serve and protect the public.

Black Guy Sues After Sergeant Stun-guns Him While Shackled
Black Guy Sues After Sergeant Stun-guns Him While Shackled

Christopher Mecca, the sergeant who used the stun gun, resigned in the aftermath of the event rather than being terminated and was jailed on misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault and official misconduct. In December of 2021, a jury found him guilty and he was given probation as a result of the verdict.

Mari Newman, Cole’s lawyer, stated that the department and Mecca’s supervisors failed in their training duties by enabling “unconstitutional” conduct to occur.

The way Mecca “made a conscious decision to use force,” as described by Newman, “was in a way that he thought he could get away with.” When choosing how much excessive force to use against Travis, he considered his race.

Cole, originally from Rogers, Arkansas, told police he had been drinking with his then-girlfriend in Longmont, northeast of Boulder, to celebrate his birthday. He was thinking about making the move to Colorado at the time. However, the night of the argument, the police were summoned. Cole was taken into custody on a charge of domestic abuse and taken to the Boulder County Jail. (According to Newman, the charge against him was ultimately withdrawn.)

According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Cole had been drinking heavily and became “physically aggressive” with the officers who arrested him. He was restrained in a chair inside the detention facility. He said to NBC News that the police officers became “aggressive” with him after pulling and grabbing his neck, and that Mecca gave him the creeps and taunted him with slurs.

According to the lawsuit, deputies can be seen putting a mask over Cole’s face in an edited three-minute security footage given by Newman and filmed inside the jail.

The lawsuit claims that while the other cops had Cole tied in the chair, Mecca had been taunting him.

In the clip, Cole may be overheard saying, “Let’s go!”

, to which Mecca kept saying, “You want to go?

It is claimed in the lawsuit that at this point Mecca “activated his taser and electrocuted Mr. Cole, watching his restrained body shake and writhe for approximately five seconds — an act of sheer cowardly sadism with no conceivable legitimate law enforcement or penological purpose, and a certain infliction of excessive force.”

According to the lawsuit, Cole sat in the chair for four hours straight as deputies flatly refused to release his restraints so that he could use the restroom. Other cops at the scene allegedly “did nothing to intervene,” meaning they did not instruct Mecca to stop or “take any action to de-escalate the incident,” as the lawsuit claims.

Cole has filed a lawsuit in American court. On September 21 in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, defendants Mecca, Sheriff Joe Pelle, and numerous other deputies were named. When reached for comment, neither the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office nor Mecca provided an immediate response.

Pelle stated in an interview with The Denver Post last week that the agency had a policy in effect at the time that forbade the use of a stun gun on any shackled inmate.

The sheriff’s office “moved swiftly and with full public openness in the handling of this misuse of force and to hold the former employee accountable,” the statement read. It is the opinion of the sheriff that the former employee acted outside of agency policy and training, and that he or she must take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

The lawsuit claims that two Longmont police officers who witnessed the use of force reported it to their superiors, despite the department’s claim that Mecca reported the event on his own.

In his case, Cole claims that Mecca told his superiors that he used a Taser on him because of Cole’s race. According to Newman, Mecca said, “I didn’t believe it would look good on TV with officers using brutal force on an African American male,” in an interview conducted after the event.

Given a previous incident in 2017 in which a woman named Lauren Gotthelf was placed in a restraint chair with her hands cuffed behind her back and then Tased, Newman said the entire department should also be held liable for a practice of “improper conduct.”

In the same week that Cole was assaulted, Gotthelf filed a complaint against the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office for excessive force, which was settled for $400,000 the following week.

The sheriff’s office initially denied the charges in the case and claimed “factual disputes,” but subsequently settled by changing its procedures, which included prohibiting the use of a stun gun on someone already restrained in a chair.

Because “this has been happening so often over the world and a lot of individuals don’t know that they can speak up,” Cole added, “I filed a lawsuit demanding unspecified damages.”

It’s not possible for them to keep getting away with it, he said.

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