PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- The father and son duo facing felony assault charges in a violent attack on a homeless man last year in Pueblo have made their first court appearance.
After the hearing Wednesday, attorneys for the victim served them with a county lawsuit alleging battery and false imprisonment.
Doug and Nate Cullison's actions have been profiled in multiple 13 Investigates reports detailing how they were caught on camera violently assaulting Alex Montoya outside of an east side business on September 14, 2022.
The altercation and detainment of Montoya stemmed from an incident at a nearby school with Doug's wife. According to a police report, Doug had evidence that Montoya punched and spit on his wife. According to a PPD report, Montoya was issued a ticket for battery and was released to the hospital. There was no indication that Doug or Nate were arrested or charged in connection to the incident initially.
Then, after Pueblo PD re-opened their investigation into the matter, they referred misdemeanor assault charges to 10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner's office for Montoya and the Cullisons. However, upon further investigation by the DA's office, they upgraded the Cullisons' charges to felony assault, a class-4 felony. Montoya's charges were not upgraded, but he is still facing misdemeanor assault charges.
During Wednesday's hearing, Doug and Nate Cullison appeared before District Judge Allison Ernst, where they were both advised of their charges. A mandatory protection order was put in place and a subsequent hearing was set for July 19.
The Cullisons are represented by Joe Koncilja, a well-known defense attorney in Pueblo. He tells 13 Investigates he doesn't condone his clients' violent actions, but he says Montoya's actions warranted the retaliatory actions.
"Quite frankly, if you spit on my 51-year-old mother and you knocked her down, you're going to get an a** kicking. I don't care what the law says." Koncilja said.
He says in a "perfect world" the Cullisons would not have been charged in the first place for their actions.
"People would have understood exactly what happened, the entire story. I don't believe the district attorney's office had all of the information that before they made a charging decision," Koncilja said.
The defense attorney is referring to claims that Montoya spit and hit Doug Cullison's wife, Teresa Cullison hours before the violent attack at a nearby school, Parkview Elementary School.
That incident was not caught on camera, but he says his investigation has uncovered that Montoya was acting in a "peculiar manner" outside the school and referred to multiple teachers on scene as "being members of the Illuminati."
"He knocked her down. She had to jump into the car of another teacher that was there. He was not seriously injured, but I think the confrontation was understandable between parties," Koncilja said.
Montoya's attorney, Shawn Conti, was also in court Wednesday to observe the hearing. He says the Cullisons' actions warrant prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
"You can't let people take the law into their own hands because they can't recognize people that are vulnerable and people that are suffering from a mental health crisis," Conti said. "It's all about accountability and that's what the public wants now. That's what we want. I'm going to trust the D.A. to give an appropriate disposition based upon the facts of the case, as well as their criminal history, as they would in every case. We want them to be treated like every single defendant."
Conti was critical of Cullison's on-scene representation to Pueblo PD officers that he was a "part-time guy" as a volunteer medic with the Pueblo County Sheriff's office.
"They sort of represented themselves as quasi-law enforcement and then they misrepresented themselves to the police. Don't take my word for it. Watch the videos," Conti said. "Watch what Doug and Nate told responding officers and then watch the footage from Nick's Dairy Cream and make your own determination about what do you want in that lawsuit."
That lawsuit alleges that the Cullisons "acted with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact" to Montoya on September 14. They also allege that their conduct was "extreme and outrageous" and "restricted Montoya's freedom of movement."
"Civil cases are about monetary damages, and we're in the process now of assigning a dollar amount. So we're looking at all of this harms, how this has affected his life," Conti said. "It's tough to quantify because he's lived like a prisoner for the past six or seven months because he's been living in fear. He felt let down by the justice system. That needs to be worth something."