Deaf Coloradan Brady Mistic is suing the City of Idaho Springs after two officers tasered him for not responding to their verbal commands. In the lawsuit, Brady Mistic claims that his disability prevented him from being able to hear the officers, and that he was subsequently jailed for four months without an interpreter.
The lawsuit also names the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners and the Idaho Springs Police Department, who released a statement last week that said both officers involved were reviewed internally and cleared of any wrongdoing.
According to Brady Mistic, he accidentally drove through a stop sign while traveling to the laundromat on Sep. 17, 2019, when two officers approached him after he parked and exited his vehicle.
Shining a light in his face, the officers ordered Brady to return to his car, but being deaf he could not hear them. In the lawsuit, Brady explains that he has no sense of hearing in either ear, cannot read lips, and communicates through sign language or written notes from a notepad.
Unable to follow their commands or understand why he was being question by police, Brady alleged that he then “raised his hands up with palms out in an obvious non-threatening position of deference and/or surrender.”
Unresponsive to their orders, the two officers then tried to handcuff him, and when he panicked, they threw him down onto the concrete, hitting his head in the process. According to police records, one of the officers also broke their leg in the scuffle. Allegedly, Brady Mistic was screaming out “no ears” as the other office tasered him twice to stun him.
“The incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate,” the Idaho Springs Police Department said after the filing.
The Police statement also mentions that Officer Nicholas Hanning, the one who broke his leg, is no longer with the police force in Idaho Springs. In July, a separate lawsuit was filed against Officer Hanning when he tasered a 75-year-old man after entering his home and kneeling on his neck.
The other officer was Ellie Summers, whom the Department said did know that Brady was deaf when she tasered him. Officer Summers was also named as Hanning’s partner in the arrest of the 75-year-old man who sued the Department in July, though she was not physically involved.
It remains unclear, even in the department’s report, why the officers acted the way they did in response to pulling someone over for running a stop sign. After resisting arrest in his confusion, Brady Mistic was held in jail for four months. The charges were eventually dropped after he was finally able to speak with an interpreter. He was charged with assaulting an officer, obstructing peace, and resisting arrest.
His attorney wrote in the lawsuit that Brady was unjustly held in jail for four months, and “suffered even further indignity, humiliation, isolation, and discrimination due to being deaf due to being unable to communicate.”
“Mr. Mistic commonly communicates that he is deaf and that he needs to write to communicate by raising his hands, touching or covering his ears, and shaking his head ‘no’ and then mimicking the act of writing on a piece of paper,” his attorney said. “He has used this pantomimic language to communicate to police officers that he is deaf and needs to write to communicate during several ordinary traffic stops on occasions prior to this one.”
He called the officers’ actions a “blatant abuse of authority and violation of rights.”
The rest of the lawsuit’s filings are expected for November. Brady Mistic is asking for an unspecified amount.