Denver, CO

Denver to pay out $825,000 in police class action lawsuit

David Heitz
An incident at Denver Airport led to a class action lawsuit against the Denver Police.Photo byAndres MolinaonUnsplash

The Denver City Council will vote Monday to award $825,000 in a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit stems from a man being wrongfully arrested by Denver Police. According to 9News, Juan Valenzuela, a prison guard, showed ID to Denver Police at Denver International Airport that they determined to be fake. However, the ID was not fake and had simply been through the wash.

The officer arrested Valenzuela on suspicion of felony forgery. Valenzuela spent two days in jail and lost his job, according to 9 News. The criminal charges were eventually dropped.

Valenzuela sued for wrongful arrest, 9 News reported, and the federal jury included $300,000 in punitive damages in its award.

According to the settlement agreement, the payment covers “all claims related to the civil action captioned Juan Valenzuela v. Karl Coleman, et al., which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Case No. 18-CV-00329-CMA-STV and related appeals Juan Valenzuela v. Coleman, et al., filed in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Appeal Docket Nos. 22-1105 and 22-1107. Settles a class action lawsuit involving the Denver Police Department.”

The settlement appears on the consent calendar of Monday’s City Council agenda. Items on the consent calendar are considered routine and generally pass in a block vote without discussion.

The council also is set to pay Robert Strong $550,000 "in full payment and satisfaction of all claims related to civil action captioned Robert Strong v. City and County of Denver and officer Adam Bolton, which was filed in the U.S. District Court, state of Colorado, case no. 21-CV-00461-GPG-KAS."

Last week, Denver paid out $1.1 million in police department settlements.

Denver pays out $35.3 million since 2010

Just three weeks ago, Denver paid out $4.7 million to people it had arrested for curfew during protests. In July, the city settled two lawsuits against the police department for $305,000. In May, Denver paid $135,000 to settle two claims against the police department. In April, the city paid a man $350,000 after he claimed Denver police violated his rectum with a police baton. In March, the city settled half a dozen lawsuits totaling $1.6 million.

With the latest settlements, Denver has paid out more than $33.8 million since 2010, according to records, including:

2010: $1.1 million.

2011: $2.3 million.

2012: $1.2 million.

2013: $606,000.

2014: $4.1 million.

2015: $1.7 million.

2016: $779,000.

2017: $7.9 million.

2018: $762,000.

2019: $1.5 million.

2020: $400,860.

2021: $1.8 million.

2022: $3.6 million.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California 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 proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. 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 in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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