Denver, CO

Denver settles alleged jail abuse case for $40,000

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The City and County of Denver will pay a jail inmate $40,000 to settle claims stemming from alleged mistreatment.

Edward Lee Hicks suffers from hearing loss, PTSD, intermittent explosive disorder, and more, according to court records on Casemine. "He contends that he suffers from a severe hearing loss disability, which makes it difficult for him to understand what others are saying and causes him to "exaggerate (his) gestures to be understood," according to a summary statement.

"Mr. Hicks claims that upon being admitted to the jail in June 2016, he informed staff members of his hearing disability," the statement continues.

"Mr. Hicks also alleges that despite making several requests to Dr. Stob, a physician employed by the Denver Health and Hospital Authority who worked at the jail, Dr. Stob made no attempts to inform the jail as to Mr. Hicks' hearing loss nor made any accommodations for his disability."

Hicks alleges the jail's failure to accommodate his disability was discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The City Council will vote Monday to settle the Hicks case. In addition to the City and County of Denver, other defendants listed in the U.S. District Court case include Denver Health and Hospital Authority, Jerome Gonzales, Gabriel Griego and Frank Rolando.

No medications after tiff with nurse

Hicks alleged the jail should have known about his hearing impairment from a 2012 stay. He further alleged mistreatment by a nurse. "On the morning of Dec. 14, 2016, Nurse Gallegos was dispensing medications to pretrial detainees at the jail," according to Casemine. "Mr. Hicks alleges that when he reached the front of the 'med-line,' he engaged in a verbal altercation with her during which she 'cursed' at him and ordered him to the back of the line.

"When Mr. Hicks reached the front of the line again, Nurse Gallegos refused to give him his medications because he had called her names and threatened 'to slap' her. Mr. Hicks contends that because he was not given his medications that day, he 'experienced migraines, pain from arthritis, had trouble eating and drinking, and felt anxious and distressed.'"

Deputy advances with nun chucks

It all led to an altercation with deputies, according to the summary. "Mr. Hicks claims that he then entered a cleaning closet and retrieved a broom handle," the Casemine summary continues.

"Deputy Gonzales asked him to put down the broom handle and a conversation ensued. Deputies Kent and Lombardi arrived, and deputy Gonzalez pulled out nun chucks, a martial arts weapon issued to jail deputies, and advanced on Mr. Hicks. Mr. Hicks asserts that he brandished the broom handle and was 'tackled from behind by deputy Sisneros' and slammed onto the concrete floor. Mr. Hicks alleges that deputy Gonzales punched and struck him with the nun chucks and applied a choking maneuver."

Failure to intervene

From there, deputies took Hicks to see a nurse, according to the documents, where he received treatment for lacerations on his hand. Mr. Hicks alleges Deputies Compton, Wherry, Ortiz, Mehnert, Anderson, Rodriguez, Garcia, Rolando, and Griego all witnessed the excessive use of force and failed to intervene.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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