The man who had a stun gun used on him while in detention at 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, names former Sgt. Christopher Mecca, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, and two commanders and seven deputies as defendants.
“How is a man tied to a chair a threat? Cole said in a statement. “Being black did not justify this kind of treatment, humiliation, being tied up for hours and degraded. I have never felt so defeated and I couldn’t even protect my body.
In naming the county, the lawsuit alleges prison deputies should have had more and better training.
“It is incumbent upon Boulder County and the Defendant Pelle to properly train Boulder County officers to ensure they perform their duties properly and to discipline, rather than ratify, their improper conduct, so as to that officers may learn from their mistakes…The failure of Boulder County and Defendant Pelle to do this has led to unconstitutional conduct by its officers and will predictably lead to more unconstitutional conduct in the future,” reads the trial.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Thursday.
“The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office had a policy in place prohibiting the use of a taser on a detained inmate at the time of this event, and our staff had been trained in this policy,” Pelle said in a statement. . “The deputy involved was put on leave a few hours after the incident, and a few weeks later he was fired from our job and charged with misdemeanor assault. The sheriff’s office acted quickly and with public transparency in handling this abuse of force and in holding the former employee accountable.
“The Sheriff disagrees with the lawsuit’s allegations alleging our agency’s guilt, and counters that the former employee acted outside of our policy and training, and bears sole responsibility for this decision. “
Mecca was found guilty in Boulder County Court of counts of third degree assault and official misconduct and sentenced to probation in connection with the incident which occurred on September 23, 2020.
According to an affidavit, Cole was taken to jail by Longmont police for a domestic violence case. Law enforcement said he was combative with officers and intoxicated. When he arrived at the prison, he “voluntarily immobilized himself by bending his knees to resist passively”.
Mecca, one of the supervisors on duty, asked the deputies to secure the man in a restraint chair. As the deputies placed him in the restraint chair and secured the straps, officials claimed Cole was verbally uncooperative, began spitting at staff, and attempted to bite at least one deputy.
While Cole was restrained, Mecca used a stun gun on his leg for five seconds.
But in the lawsuit, attorneys said Cole “offered little passive resistance when faced with the humiliation and discomfort of the restraint chair, including moving his upper body, blowing raspberries at MPs and holding a spit mask in his mouth”.
The lawsuit said Mecca “began to helplessly taunt Mr. Cole verbally, seeking to provoke the arrestee’s aggression by repeatedly challenging him to resist.”
“While continuing to taunt Mr. Cole, Defendant Mecca activated his taser and shocked Mr. Cole, watching his restrained body shake and writhe for approximately five seconds – an act of pure cowardly sadism without any law enforcement conceivable legitimate or penological purpose, and some use of excessive force.
The lawsuit also blames the other deputies for standing there as they “watched the threats and ultimate act of sadistic brutality by the accused Mecca”.
While the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Mecca self-reported the incident before later resigning in lieu of firing, the lawsuit alleges the incident only came to light after he was reported by Longmont police officers who witnessed it.
Cole is represented by Killmer, Lane, and Newman, who also represented a woman who sued the county in a similar case that was settled the day before Cole was arrested.
“The fact that a Boulder sheriff’s sergeant charged a totally subdued man days after settling another federal civil rights lawsuit for the exact same unconstitutional conduct shows how deeply rooted the culture of brutality runs.” , attorney Mari Newman said in a statement.