COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A US Marine Corps veteran was at his daughter's side in a Woodland Park hospital after a traffic accident when a quick series of events left him in handcuffs with Taser barbs sticking out of his skin. Now, he's suing the police officers for excessive force.
The incident happened nearly two years ago on April 17, 2019. According to a lawsuit filed in 2020 and released to KRDO on Wednesday, Carl Andersen Jr. was at UCHealth Memorial Hospital with his family after their 19-month-old daughter was accidentally hit by a car in their driveway in Woodland Park.
The lawsuit says that while Andersen was with his fiancee and daughter in the hospital, police officers arrived and began asking questions related to the crash. According to Andersen's attorneys at Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, the officers "wrongfully suspected possible child abuse as the cause of the injuries."
A body-worn camera video released as part of the lawsuit shows three CSPD officers and one Teller County Sheriff's Office detective enter the hospital room where Andersen and his family are waiting with the young girl. Upon entry, one of the officers immediately tries to pull a cell phone from Andersen's back pocket without warning.
Andersen refused and pulled his body away, telling the officers they didn't have the right to seize the phone. One of the officers heard in the video disputes that and claims that they do have the right to seize the phone as part of an investigation.
The lawsuit says that one CSPD officer, Todd Eckert, said, "Let's take this out in the hallway." That's when Andersen said, "I'm not leaving my daughter's side," and asked the officers, "You're going to 'Taze' me because I won't give you my fiancee's cell phone?"
While this exchange was taking place, Andersen's father was on the phone with Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell trying to get information and apparently de-escalate the situation.
At one point, CSPD officer Vito DelCore moved past Andersen and said, "I'm going to go behind you because I don't want anyone behind you getting hurt." Within seconds, officers grabbed Andersen's wrist and started restraining his arms. The lawsuit says DelCore then shot Andersen in the back with a Taser stun gun. As Andersen was on the floor being pinned down by the officers, DelCore says, "Put your hands behind your back," while firing his stun gun a second time into Andersen's leg.
The lawsuit claims that officers didn't tell Andersen he was under arrest or indicate they would use force to take the cell phone before the scuffle in the hospital room, just feet from where his fiancee and daughter were in the bed.
According to the lawsuit, Andersen was taken out of the room and interrogated without a Miranda advisement, and they wrote reports which "were misleading and falsely described Mr. Andersen's actions and demeanor." Two cell phones were seized as well.
The lawsuit says that officers filed "obstructing and resisting arrest charges against Mr. Andersen," but that the charges were dismissed by the District Attorney's Office in El Paso County two days before the trial in late 2019. We looked through CoCourt records and couldn't find any documentation of the case.
The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and consequential damages, claiming the officers violated Andersen's civil and Constitutional rights. The defendants named in the lawsuit are the City of Colorado Springs, Teller County, CSPD Officer Vito Delcore, CSPD Officer Todd Eckert, CSPD Officer Carlos Sandoval, and TCSO Deputy Anthony Matarazzo.
We're working on getting the original reports and talking to Andersen this afternoon. Check back for updates.
CSPD said it couldn't comment on pending litigation.