Sep 22. – The man who used a stun gun on him while incarcerated in the Boulder County Jail, a case that resulted in the conviction of a former sergeant, has sued the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Travis Cole on Wednesday, calls former Sgt. Christopher Mecca, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and two commanders and seven deputies as suspects.
“How is a man tied to a chair a threat?” Cole said in a statement. “Being black didn’t justify that kind of treatment, humiliation, being tied up and demoted for hours on end. I’ve never felt so defeated and I couldn’t even protect my body.”
In naming the county, the lawsuit alleges that deputies in prison should have received more and better training.
“It is the responsibility of Boulder County and Defendant Pelle to properly train Boulder County officers to ensure they are performing their duties correctly and to discipline, rather than enforce, their inappropriate behavior so that officers can learn from their errors… Boulder County and Defendant Pelle’s failure to do so has resulted in unconstitutional conduct by its officers and is expected to lead to more unconstitutional conduct in the future,” the lawsuit said.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on the matter Thursday.
“The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office had a policy at the time of this event prohibiting the use of a taser on a tied-up inmate, and our staff was trained in that policy,” Pelle said in a statement. “The deputy involved was placed on furlough within hours of the incident, and within a few weeks he was separated from our job and charged with assault. The Sheriff acted swiftly and with full public transparency in handling this abuse of violence, and to ensure that the ex – hold the employee accountable.
“The sheriff disagrees with the lawsuit allegations that allege culpability on the part of our agency, arguing that the former employee acted outside of our policies and training, and bears sole responsibility for that decision.”
Mecca was found guilty in Boulder County Court of offenses of third-degree assault and official misconduct and sentenced to probation in connection with the incident, which took place on September 23, 2020.
According to an affidavit, Cole was taken to prison by the Longmont Police Department on a domestic violence case. Police said he was combative with officers and drunk. When he arrived at the prison, he “went limp on purpose and nodded to his knees as a means of passive resistance.”
Mecca, one of the supervisors on duty, ordered the deputies to secure the man in a safety seat. While officers placed him in a cuff and fastened the belts, officials claimed Cole was reportedly uncooperative, began spitting at staff and attempted to bite at least one deputy.
While Cole was being held, Mecca used a tranquilizer gun on his leg for five seconds.
But in the lawsuit, the attorneys said Cole offered only “some mild passive resistance when faced with the humiliation and discomfort of the chair, which included moving his upper body, blowing raspberries at the officers and holding a spit mask.” in his mouth.”
According to the lawsuit, Mecca began “verbally taunting the helpless Mr. Cole, in an attempt to provoke aggression on the fully restrained detainee by repeatedly provoking him to resist.”
As he continued to taunt Mr Cole, Defendant Mecca activated his taser and electrocuted Mr. Cole, watching his restrained body quiver and writhe for about five seconds—an act of pure cowardly sadism with no conceivable legitimate law enforcement or penological purpose, and a certain infliction of excessive force.”
The lawsuit also blames the other deputies for watching as they “observed the Defendant Mecca’s threats and the ultimate act of sadistic brutality”.
While the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Mecca self-reported the incident before resigning rather than terminating it, the lawsuit alleges the incident came to light only after it was reported by Longmont police officers who witnessed it.
Cole is represented by Killmer, Lane and Newman, who also represented a woman who filed a lawsuit against the county in a similar case settled the day before Cole was taken into custody.
“The fact that a Boulder sheriff’s sergeant arrested a completely demure man days after he settled another federal civil rights case for the exact same unconstitutional behavior shows how entrenched the culture of brutality is,” attorney Mari Newman said in a statement.