The lawsuit claims that Colorado Springs police officers pepper sprayed a 17-year-old girl who was already handcuffed and restrained in the back of a patrol car.
A lawsuit filed in Colorado’s El Paso County alleges that a Colorado Springs law enforcement officer pepper sprayed a 17-year-old girl twice while she was handcuffed and restrained in the back of a police car.
According to The Gazette, the lawsuit—filed by Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, on behalf of the family of Amara Keens-Dumas—claims that Colorado Springs officers approached Keens-Dumas and her boyfriend after an unnamed third party reported that the couple had gotten into a verbal altercation.
When officers arrived to investigate the report, Keens-Dumas’s brother instructed them to leave.
However, law enforcement returned an estimated 45 minutes later, when Keens-Dumas left the house and began crying in the street.
In her lawsuit, Keens-Dumas claims that Colorado Springs officers handcuffed her, then forced her against the side of a police vehicle.
When Officer Ryan Yoshimiya touched Keens-Dumas’s leg—despite Keens-Dumas asking officers not to physically touch her—it triggered a so-called “trauma response.”
Keens-Dumas’s brother had earlier warned officers of this “trauma response,” noting that Keens-Dumas was a rape survivor.
“Rather than de-escalate the situation created by their unnecessary groping of Ms. Keens-Dumas, Defendants Ragsdale and Yoshimiya forcefully put her onto the asphalt. Both officers put their weight on Ms. Keens-Dumas, which caused painful cuts, scrapes, and bruising on her arms, knees, and legs,” the lawsuit alleges.
The entire incident was recorded by the same bystander who had initially called the police.
The bystander, adds The Gazette, said they were “horrified” by the officers’ response.
After Keens-Dumas was placed inside a patrol car, Sgt. Gregory Wilhelmi arrived and asked Officer Yoshimiya if the teenager “[had] been sprayed,” prompting Yoshimiya to tell Keens-Dumas that she would be pepper sprayed if she did not stop screaming.
“When Defendant Wilhelmi sprayed Ms. Keens-Dumas with pepper spray, Defendant Yoshimiya coughed — at the opposite end of the vehicle — and closed the left rear door. He thereby locked Ms. Keens-Dumas in the police car, sitting in a fog of pepper spray, with the doors and windows closed. She was essentially imprisoned in a gas chamber with no escape from the excruciatingly painful pepper spray,” the complaint states.
Keens-Dumas was then taken to the police station, where she was later retrieved by her mother.
“Defendants’ uses of force against Ms. Keens-Dumas, including the use of pepper spray while she was restrained in the back of the police car, were grossly excessive,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages as well as a written apology, police procedural changes, additional law enforcement training to prevent future incidents, and similar remedies.