By Jeff Todd
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)– A police department already under investigation by the Department of Justice is now facing a federal civil lawsuit for a man who claims excessive force by officers while he was having a medical episode.
Carl Leadholm says his blood sugar was low when he was swerving around Tower Road near 120th Avenue. Five Commerce City Police officers responded on Nov. 18, 2014.
“It would have taken a simple conversation and this never would have happened,” said David Fisher, Leadholm’s attorney. “They admit, we just went up there knocked on the window, pulled him out of the car to the ground, boom- start hitting him in the leg.”
Fisher says Leadholm had scratches to his face, baton bruises on his neck; he was pepper sprayed, tazed and had two surgeries on a broken finger.
Leadholm was charged with resisting arrest, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and resisting arrest. All three charges were dismissed.
“They just went straight to force, and severe force,” Fisher said. “It’s just poor training because as soon as the EMTs show up, they recognize the guy has a problem and they immediately start talking to him, he explains he has diabetes.”
The criminal complaint makes a point that the case hopes to get Commerce City Police better training and hiring practices.
Of the five officers who responded, two had awards from the department for lifesaving, according to online records. One officer who responded was Kevin Lord. Lord was arrested, resigned, and pleaded guilty to a hoax after he shot himself last November.
“You can’t have dangerous people like that in police uniforms. When you have officers who are doing the wrong thing and the department know it, they should fix it,” Fisher said.
The lawsuit has not been served to the City of Commerce City yet, officials with the city said they had no comment until that time.
In August, the Department of Justice agreed to review the Commerce City Police Department under its COPS program. No recommendations have been issued.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.