A lawsuit recently filed in U.S. District Court alleges 28 motorists spent more than two hours in police detainment following a 2012 bank robbery in Aurora, Colo. The local police chief and several others are named in the lawsuit, alleging the widespread violation of the detainees’ constitutional rights.
When a white male suspect escaped from a nearby Wells Fargo bank after a robbery, police learned employees had slipped a GPS tracker in with the stolen cash. Authorities were able to estimate his location to an intersection and, according to the lawsuit, “immediately surrounded and barricaded all nineteen vehicles” in the area.
The tracker was reportedly unable to pinpoint the criminal’s specific vehicle, and police did not have a description from which to work. In response, court documents allege, law enforcement simply treated everyone in the vicinity – including children – as a criminal.
“They brandished shields and pointed assault rifles directly at innocent citizens, including children under ten years old,” the suit stated. “Officers with police dogs were at the ready. No one was free to leave.”
Since the closest FBI division was closed, local authorities reportedly had no access to more accurate trackers. The suit claims police paid special attention to individuals who they felt looked “nervous or anxious.”
Of course, virtually anyone in such a tense situation might display such visual cues.
“Officers, weapons still drawn, proceeded to each vehicle,” the complaint continues and, after more than an hour, everyone was forced to exit their cars.
At that point, the majority of detainees was searched and handcuffed.
“They commanded that every individual sit on the curb for yet another hour, still handcuffed,” the suit asserts. “They searched each vehicle without consent.”
When one of the motorists attempted to explain he suffers from serious physical issues that prevent him from kneeling on the pavement, an officer reportedly “continued to scream” at him “while waving his shotgun” near the man’s face.
Ultimately, he complied to the best of his ability and, due to the pain, “fell face forward onto the pavement.”
Outrageously, the suit claims police then yanked him up by his shoulder with such force that they inflicted further injury.
FBI agents eventually arrived on the scene – more than two hours later – and the robbery suspect was arrested. Though he did call all the victims to apologize, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates “publicly defended the officers’ actions,” the suit concludes.
A number of recent events have led some to complain of an encroaching authoritarianism among America’s law enforcement. Allegations like those in this lawsuit are sure to only add fuel to that fire.
The incident described in the court documents took place just over a month before an Aurora cinema was the scene of a horrific mass shooting that left 12 dead and dozens more injured.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom