Six individuals named in suit
WALSENBURG — Citing unreasonable seizure and arrest, excessive use of force, and failure to train and/or supervise, Amanda Daniels filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Walsenburg and a number of police officers and commanders on May 15, 2014. According to Walsenburg Administrator David Johnston, the defendants were served with notice of the lawsuit on Friday, June 13, 2014. City officials have made no formal comment on the lawsuit, Johnston said with the late service, the city’s insurance provider’s attorneys had not read the lawsuit as of Monday, June 16. No dollar amount is specified in the suit, in which Daniels demands a jury trial, however, the statute the suit is filed under indicates a monetary judgement over $100,000 is sought by any party against any other single party. Daniels is represented in the case by her attorney, Adam J. Schultz of Pueblo, CO. The
lawsuit names WPD Cpl. John Salazar, former WPD Officer Richard Isnetto, former WPD Police Chief Jim Chamberlain, former WPD Lt. Kurt Liebchen, former WPD Sgt. Garry Hornsby, former WPD Sgt. Joseph Hibpshman, and the City of Walsenburg as defendants. The lawsuit states on May 17, 2012, Daniels had gone to #36 Stacy Drive to briefly speak with a friend whom she had heard was at that address. At approximately 11:17 pm, police officers Salazar and Isnetto responded to the same address on a dispatch call to investigate a noise complaint. The lawsuit says Daniels made comments to Salazar, but did not threaten to use violence, force, or physical interference or obstacle to prevent the officers from conducting their investigation. The suit says Daniels began to leave the premises as directed by police, but, as she was leaving, Salazar suddenly, unreasonably, nd without provocation, grabbed her by the hair and attempted to pull her back toward him. The suit alleges Salazar escalated his use of force by spraying Daniels with his ‘OC’ chemical aerosol spray. The suit alleges Isnetto unreasonably deployed his Taser, shooting Daniels in the back, which brought her to the ground. “The unprovoked attack and unreasonable use of force caused (Ms) Daniels to panic. She was able to get up, and she ran away from the officers, seeking refuge in her friend’s house at #32 Stacy Drive,” said the suit. The suit says the officers pursued her to that address where they forced entry and dragged her out of the house onto a cement patio, where they continued to use unnecessary force by assaulting her under the guise of ‘securing’ her. The lawsuit also alleges that once in handcuffs and after many applications of ‘OC’ spray and numerous blows to the head from fists and flashlights, Daniels was confined to the back of an unventilated police cruiser, and received no decontamination or medical attention. “This occurred despite the presence of two ambulances on scene and plenty of law enforcement personnel present to keep (Ms) Daniels secure outside of the cruiser,” the suit says. The lawsuit says police did not secure evidence in the case and photographs of Daniels’ injuries were made by the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit says use of force by WPD escalated in the four or five years prior to the incident with Daniels and says the HCSO has fielded many complaints from citizens concerning the use of force by city police and says, “Despite several requests for assistance, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has effectly ignored the Huerfano Sheriff’s requests to look into excessive force allegations made against the Walsenburg Police Department”. Neither the sheriff’s office or the state law enforcement investigation bureau are named in the lawsuit. Charges against Daniels were eventually dismissed in this case by the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Chamberlain, Liebchen, Hornsby, and Hibpshman are named in the suit as supervisors, trainers and policy makers within the WPD at the time of the incident. “Ms. Daniels is entitled to damages to compensate her for her economic and non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, compensatory, and punitive damages,attributable to the violation of her Constitutional rights by Defendants,” wrote Schultz in the lawsuit. A case review of the lawsuit is scheduled before District Court Judge Claude Appel on June 27, 2014.