A deaf man claims he was slammed to the ground and repeatedly tasered after he couldn’t hear orders police were giving him.
Brady Mistic, 26, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Idaho Springs in the US and two officers who he says “rashly attacked after failing to recognise his disability and misinterpreting his non-threatening attempts to see and communicate as challenges to police authority”.
He spent four months in jail over the alleged incident, during which time he also says he had no support to help him communicate with authorities in prison.
Mr Mistic was stopped on September 17, 2019, for allegedly driving past a stop sign before pulling into a laundromat to do his washing.
The lawsuit alleges the two officers then pulled up and “shone a light in his eyes,” in response to which Mr Mistic says he stopped and “attempted to communicate with his hands, and then put his hands up in a non-threatening manner”.
Mr Mistic alleges he was then “slammed to the ground” and repeatedly tasered “despite him saying ‘no ears’ to communicate he was deaf”, the lawsuit says.
Raymond Bryant, Mr Mistic’s lawyer, told PEOPLE the the officers did not “make any reasonable attempt to communicate” with his client.
“If the officers would have just stopped, looked and listened and attempted some reasonable communication, they would have known right away he was deaf,” Bryant said.
“They just got upset with seeing him out of his car. Instead of trying to ask themselves, ‘Why is this person out of the car? Could there be some reason? Could there be something this person doesn’t understand, whether he is disabled or not?'”
Mr Mistic was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing a police officer and assault on a first responder, and he spent nearly four months in jail.
The Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners, which maintains the jail, is also a defendant in the lawsuit.
Bryant said: “It was terrible. He didn’t have an interpreter in the jail. He was refused [an interpreter] multiple times. They didn’t have technology in the jail that would allow a deaf person to communicate with people in or outside the jail. He felt isolated and alone.”
The city of Idaho Springs has defended its officers’ actions in response to the lawsuit, saying one of them suffered a broken leg in the incident.
In a response to the allegation, the city said Mr Mistic got out of his car and approached the patrol car after being stopped.
“The officers gave verbal commands for Mr Mistic to get back in his vehicle,” according to the city’s statement.
“It was later determined Mr Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter.”
The city alleged Mr Mistic “resisted the officers, and a physical altercation took place. One of the ISPD officers was injured (broken leg) due to the resistive actions of Mr Mistic”.
The city said the incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and “the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate,” the statement added.
According to the city, the charges against Mr Mistic were dropped after he participated in a Diversion Program.