Colorado Springs Police releases Internal Affairs investigation into use of force against a veteran
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The Colorado Springs Police Department Internal Affairs Unit has released its findings after conducting an investigation into the use of force during an arrest in 2022 involving a Black veteran and officers.
13 Investigates first reported on the arrest of Dalvin Gadson in December 2022. According to Gadson’s attorneys, he was pulled over by CSPD officers during a traffic stop on Oct. 9, 2022, for reportedly not having license plates on the back of his sedan.
According to court documents, officers claimed they observed Gadson exhibiting “slurred speech” and one officer claimed they “observed a knife” in the center console of his car. When officers approached the vehicle and demanded Gadson get out, the officers claimed they noted the smell of marijuana coming from his vehicle.
That’s when Gadson told officers he wasn’t getting out of his car, but did open the door with his legs hanging out. After roughly 30 seconds of interactions between Gadson and the officers, body-worn camera footage shows officers trying to remove him from the car with force.
In the video previously obtained by 13 Investigates, two officers are seen punching and kicking Gadson. He was ultimately arrested on two felony charges of 2nd-degree assault on a police officer and multiple misdemeanor charges including resisting arrest, obstructing a police officer, and driving under the influence.
Attorneys for Gadson filed a federal excessive force lawsuit against three officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department, Ofc. Colby Hickman, Ofc. Matthew Anderson, and Ofc. Christopher K. Hummel, in December.
The lawsuit states Gadson suffered head and back injuries, and still suffers “ongoing emotional distress, with significant PTSD type symptoms, including sadness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, frustration, sleeplessness, nightmares and flashbacks from his assault.”
“You don’t have thoughts when that is happening. You are trying to survive,” Gadson said with his attorneys during a press conference announcing the federal lawsuit. “I’m scared of all these police officers at this moment because I feel like they all are in collaboration with those three who hurt me. Until they are suspended, I will not feel safe in Colorado Springs.”
In January, the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced the charges were dropped against Gadson after he paid a $15 fine for improperly displaying the license plates on his car.
In a statement released with the update, Chief Adrian Vasquez said:
“In support of transparency in law enforcement investigations, I am notifying our community that we have completed the personnel investigation into the use of force incident involving Mr. Dalvin Gadson Ochoa. I will be releasing the personnel investigation’s case summary and findings materials. I am also releasing the full body-worn camera videos from each of the officers involved in the personnel investigation”
Internal Affairs Findings
CSPD’s Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) released a memo detailing administrative insight and the final determination into the accusations lobbied against the three officers named in the lawsuit, two sergeants, and a fourth officer involved in the incident. To see also : When I was in Nkandla all was in order, I left satisfied. This memo was released on July 5.
The memo outlines whether or not the allegations were sustained or unfounded and goes further into details about the accusations.
Below are the allegations against each officer and the outcome:
Ofc. Colby Hickman
- The allegation of violating General Order 500: Use of Force, for unlawfully applying or using force against the complainant during a traffic stop was determined to be unfounded. No further action was recommended against Ofc. Hickman.
Ofc. Christopher Hummel
- The allegation of violating General Order 500: Use of Force, for unlawfully applying or using force against the complainant during a traffic stop was determined to be unfounded. No further action was recommended for this.
- The allegation of violating General Order 120: Treatment of the Public, for telling the complainant, “You’re under arrest you dumb fuck”, and demeaning the arrestee was determined to be sustained.
- The allegation of violating General Order 401.30: Police Officer Conduct, Conduct Unbecoming a Police Officer, for making inappropriate and unprofessional comments towards the complainant well after the initial use of force, demonstrated unacceptable behavior on the officer’s part and brought disrepute and distrust of the Colorado Springs Police Department was determined to be sustained.
The Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) recommended Ofc. See the article : Pakistan learned to respond with 'iron hands' after deadly political … – Arab News Pakistan. Hummel receive a ten-hour suspension and be removed from his position as a Police Training Officer for the two sustained allegations.
Ofc. Matthew Anderson
- The allegation of violating General Order 500: Use of Force, for an unlawful application of force against the complainant per Colorado State Law; 18-1-707, was determined to be unfounded. No further action was recommended for this.
However, the IAU stated further review brought up issues surrounding Ofc. Anderson punching Gadson in the face and head 13-14 times in a row and the 11-12 consecutive punches to Gadson’s side and abdomen. To see also : Murder suspect turns himself in to law enforcement – WCBI. The IAU states while the number of total strikes is lawful, the action is not in line with the training and expectations of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
According to the IAU, officers are taught to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their use of force and to change tactics “upon realization of that fact.” Officers are also trained to repeatedly give verbal commands to the suspect directing compliance.
Per CSPD training, IAU stated Ofc. Anderson should’ve “utilized force in a manner consistent with the application, evaluation of effectiveness, and the assessment of alternative measures of force before continuing with the same tactic.” Meaning Ofc. Anderson should’ve thrown three or four punches, evaluated the effectiveness of the force, then utilize alternative force due to the ineffectiveness of the original punches. While it might’ve ultimately taken 14 punches to achieve compliance, the 14 consecutive punches without an evaluation or assessment were not appropriate.
- Due to that, the allegation of Ofc. Anderson violated General Order 402.20: Orders and Discretionary Judgement, for failing to follow CSPD training doctrine and departmental expectations of constantly evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of the use of force applications and determining if an alternative is available while issuing verbal commands for compliance was sustained.
The IUA determined because this behavior didn’t appear to be a pattern of behavior, the unit recommended an SDR and 10 hours of remedial scenario training on properly evaluating the effectiveness of uses of force, assessing other options, and using verbal commands for compliance throughout the use of force.
Officer Joshua Kephart
- The allegation of violating General Order 120.25: Treatment of the Public – Impartiality, for making inappropriate and unprofessional comments about the complainant was sustained. The IAU recommended SDR.
- The allegation of violating General Order 1100: Investigative Procedures, for failing to complete and accurately document the components of the investigation and properly collect evidence was determined to be unfounded. No further action was recommended.
Sergeant Karim Fudge
- The allegation of violating General Order 1100: Investigative Procedures, for failing to properly coordinate the incident investigation from a supervisory position and ensure all components of the investigation were thorough and complete was sustained.
- The allegation of violating General Order DL 150-01: Principles of Supervision, for failing to adequately take charge of the situation and incident and not actively managing the personnel and resources as required to ensure a properly completed investigation was sustained.
- The allegation of violating General Order 504: Body Worn Camera, for failing to have his BWC on during his assessment of the incident on scene was determined to be unfounded.
For the sustained violations, the IAU recommended a written reprimand for the serious nature of the violations.
Sergeant Rueben Crews
- The allegation of violating General Order DL 150-01: Principals of Supervision, for failing to inquire about any supervisory tasks he needed to do or to check on the status of the suspect in the hospital was determined to be unfounded.
- The allegation of violating General Order 1100: Investigative Procedures, for the reasons stated above, was determined to be unfounded.
According to the IAU, the Administrative Insight Team (AIT) analyzed the officer’s actions as they pertain to each of the following topics:
- Warning required,
- Legal authority,
- Whether non-violent means would be ineffective,
- Whether force is used in a way that minimizes the likelihood of injury to suspects, officers, or others,
- The seriousness of suspected offense and/or seriousness of the reason for the contact with the individual,
- Immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others,
- Whether the person appears to be resisting, attempting to evade arrest by flight, was attacking the officer.
The IAU also included a sequence of events chart that goes into great detail about what CSPD said happened during the interaction with Gadson and where that stands in the analyzed topics.
Read this form here:
CSPD also released a case summary of the IAU investigation into the use of force complaints made against the officers by Gadson.
The uses of force by the involved officers were previously reviewed through the normal chain of command review process and all were found to be within policy. However, Between October 2022 and January 2023, IAU said CSPD also received numerous complaints in addition to the one made by Gadson regarding the incident. According to IAU, “it appeared that there may have been investigative failings that were identified in the case.”
In December 2022, it was determined the case would be assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit to conduct an in-depth analysis of the incident.
According to the case summary, Ofc. Anderson, Ofc. Hummel, Ofc. Hickman, Ofc. Kephart, Sgt. Fudge, and Sgt. Crews were all interviewed. IAU interviewed eight additional officers who were witnesses to the incident.
After describing the initial arrest, IAU details what happened after other officers had arrived and when Gadson was taken to the hospital.
Ofc. Kephart made several statements captured on body-worn camera (BWC) after the arrest, including describing Ofc. Hickman’s kicks against Gadson as “soccer kicks,” saying the others “need to learn how to hit people,” and stated officers should, “Rock, Paper, IBM” to determine who would be primary on the call.
In individual interviews, Ofc. Anderson claimed he didn’t influence Ofc. Hickman’s decision to detain Gadson and didn’t ask any questions before being told that was Ofc. Hickman’s plan. He did tell IAU that after getting the passenger out of the vehicle, he saw Gadson “kicking, punching, and resisting officers” despite already being told he was going to be detained.
Ofc. Anderson stated this was one of the longest fights of his career and that Gadson was “superhuman strong.” He went on to state the fight was, “mind-numbing to think that it was so scary it took three of us that long to accomplish what we were seeking as a goal.” He also said he was scared during this incident.
When asked if he meant to smile during photos taken after the incident of them by other officers he claimed he “did not” and “was not aware he was doing so” when photographed.
Later while being interviewed, Ofc. Kephart denied knowing Ofc. Anderson was smiling when photographed. Ofc. Kephart claimed he only learned Ofc. Anderson had smiled when he saw the photo in the news. Ofc. Kephart did say that’s “how Ofc. Anderson typically is,” so he didn’t think anything of it. He did say if he noticed his expression he would’ve told Ofc. Anderson to “knock it off.”
IAU asked Ofc. Kephart if he “felt the comments at the scene could bring the department into disrepute, discredit him as an officer of the department, or could impair the efficiency of the department itself, and Ofc. Kephart said he could see how it could be looked at in that way.”
When asked about Sgt. Fudge’s supervising effectiveness, Ofc. Kephart stated, “I’ll put it this way. When I’ve been involved in similar situations in the past when sergeants come on the scene, they start directing people whereas I don’t feel that happened in this case.”
Ofc. Hummel told IAU he believed the force he used was the “only amount needed to control [Gadson]” and claimed he did try to end the fight as soon as possible.
When asked why Ofc. Hummel said, “You’re under arrest you dumb [explicit],” after putting Gadson in handcuffs he claimed he was upset and said that in the heat of the moment. He did admit he felt it did violate GO 120 – Treatment to the public.
The IAU also presented him with another comment he said that was captured on BWC. Ofc. Hummel could be heard saying he, “slapped the ever-living [explicit] out of this dude. Like the firefighters probably woke up.” He said he did feel that was inappropriate.
During the interview, Ofc. Hummel said, “I can’t take it back. I regret it, obviously, um, but yeah. I did it. I said it,” about the comments made.
Ofc. Kinsman said when he arrived the scene was “chaotic, however controlled.”
IAU documented asking Ofc. Huston, who was a witness, if he thought Sgt. Fudge adequately took command of the scene, he almost immediately responded with “No.” When asked to elaborate, Ofc. Huston said he did not feel like Sgt. Fudge had a command presence or asserted himself as a leader.
According to police records, Sgt. Fudge’s BWC was not active during this incident. However, during his interview, Sgt. Fudge claimed he did not intentionally fail to activate his BWC.
Sgt. Fudge told IAU that he “did the best he could based on the knowledge and resources he had.”
One officer interviewed with IAU told investigators he “was made uncomfortable by this situation and the determination of probable cause.” He told IAU that the reasons for the initial stop made sense, but the only information regarding a possible DUI he received was a “suspected odor coming from the vehicle,” and he explained an odor alone is usually not enough to even detain a driver outside of their vehicle. He told IAu he wouldn’t have detained someone for odor alone.
Read the full Case Summary below:
CSPD stated due to pending civil litigation, the department will not provide further statements about this case or the released materials.