In The News

Update on Greg Heard Excessive Force Taser Case

The firm’s lawsuit against a Denver Police Department Officer and the City of Denver, for the unlawful tasering of a homeless man trying to surrender, will now proceed after a Federal Judge denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.

In June 2016, DPD Officers arrested a local homeless man Greg Heard. In the process they ordered Mr. Heard to get out from behind some bushes. Mr. Heard promptly complied, showing the Officer—who had already drawn his Taser and screamed at Mr. Heard: “I’ll fuckin’ tase you!—both palms of his empty hands. Having made it clear he was unarmed and following instructions, Mr. Heard then crawled out of the bushes slowly and calmly. He stood up and took a step forward to comply with the officer’s command that he get out from behind the bushes. For that, Mr. Heard was tased, struck with the butt of the taser, and body-slammed face first to the ground.

Another DPD Officer then joined the take-down and both Officers immediately began yelling “Stop Resisting, Stop Resisting!,” while Mr. Heard was then being mashed face-first to the ground under the weight of two policemen and still convulsing from the electricity coursing through his body.

In after-action reporting the officers went out of their way to miscast Mr. Heard as disobedient, agitated, and aggressive, a menace to the safety of the officers and the public. Supervising DPD officers signed off on this false reporting, despite having body-cam video footage, which clearly contradicted the on-scene officers’ attempt to justify their use of excessive force. DPD later blessed this abuse of power as consistent with policy and training, and in so doing revealed its long standing toleration and encouragement policy of a “tase first, ask questions later” approach by officers even for people clearly peaceably surrendering.

In 2017 HHEG filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Heard, seeking to hold the Officer responsible for needlessly abusing a citizen trying to comply with officer directives. Mr. Heard’s lawsuit also seeks to hold the City liable for the larger problem it has with a police department that condones its officers’ use of excessive force including tasering and their subsequent efforts to cover up lawless behavior with false after-action reporting. The Defendants tried to get the case thrown out of court.

This month Federal Judge Robert Blackburn entirely denied Defendants’ request, instead ruling in a full opinion that Mr. Heard’s case must proceed.

You can read the complaint here and Judge Blackburn’s Order here.

See below for previous press coverage of Mr. Heard’s tasing: