A deaf man is suing police officers in Colorado who pulled him over in 2019 and “rashly attacked [him] after failing to recognize his disability,” according to a lawsuit. Brady Mistic alleges two Idaho Springs police officers pulled him over for running a stop sign, then tackled him to the ground and tased him after he tried communicating with them.
Mistic only communicates through sign language or writing. “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,” the suit reads.
Mistic says he was confused when he was pulled over and didn’t know if the police officers’ presence had anything to do with him. So, he got out of his car and continued running his errands. That’s when an officer ran toward him.
The suit alleges former Idaho Springs police officer Nicholas Hanning “immediately went hands-on with Mr. Mistic, without any warning or attempt to communicate.”
Hanning was fired in July 2021 after another incident, in which he was accused of violently arresting a 75-year-old man, according to CBS Denver.
Mistic claims Hanning threw him to the ground on his back and Officer Ellie Summers joined in.
“Both Defendants ignored that Mr. Mistic held his open and empty hands up in an obvious effort to show he meant no harm,” the suit reads. “Defendant Summers pulled out her Taser and drive stunned Mr. Mistic. Mr. Mistic cried out, saying ‘no ears.’ Defendant Summers ignored Mr. Mistic’s plea and then tased Mr. Mistic a second time.”
The suit also states Hanning even broke his own leg during the arrest, which the police department confirmed in a statement.
In the statement about the court filing, the Idaho Springs Police department says Mistic rapidly approached the officers. “The officers gave verbal commands for Mr. Mistic to get back in his vehicle,” the statement reads. “It was later determined Mr. Mistic was deaf, but this fact was not known to the officers during the initial encounter.”
Officer Ellie Summers was in training at the time of the incident, the department says. The department says Mistic was placed in handcuffs and resisted the officers, resulting in a “physical altercation.”
After being evaluated in the hospital, Mistic was charged with assault on a first responder, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest, according to the statement.
A judge allowed Mistic to participate in a Diversion Program in lieu of formal charges being filed, according to the statement. In the program, “participants agree to contract terms which help them understand behaviors that led them to break the law and change habits and behaviors which led to being arrested,” the department says.
The incident was reviewed by former Chief Christian Malanka and the officers’ actions were deemed to be appropriate, according to the statement.
Video of the arrest has not been made public, but body camera from another officer talking to Mistic through a sign language interpreter in the hospital has been released, CBS Denver reports.
Mistic’s lawyer says he spent four months in jail on the charges, according to the suit. He was not given an interpreter or any reasonable way to communicate while in jail – despite requesting assistance multiple times – kept him from access to counsel and the ability to bail out of jail, Mistic’s lawyer says.
In the suit, Mistic claims he “suffered significant damages including loss of liberty, emotional distress, physical injury, scarring, monetary harm, indignity, and humiliation as well as being deprived of means to communicate and otherwise being discriminated against due to his disability.” He also spent time in jail, lost his car and had to hire a lawyer.
Mistic’s suit, which also names the city of Idaho Springs and Clear Creek County, is for an unspecified amount.