The mother of three girls who were in a parked car when a Denver police officer pointed a gun in their direction, and their stepfather, Naphtali Israel, who officers wrongly handcuffed, are suing the city of Denver and three police officers over civil rights violations.
Israel, who is Black, and his stepdaughters, who are also Black, had done nothing wrong. They were victims of a chain of events that began with misplaced suspicion at a Safeway in Montclair and escalated into a parking-lot standoff — and trauma for Israel and the three girls, ages 2, 7, and 14 at the time, according to a complaint filed in federal court Monday by attorney David Lane.
On May 7, someone asked a Safeway clerk to call the police because a Black man with a gun was in the front seat of a Cadillac in the parking lot — not a crime in and of itself. The clerk obliged, and when police arrived, one officer pointed a gun toward the car with the girls inside. Officers then handcuffed Israel in front of them and let him go after asking some questions.
The Denver Police Department defended the action, telling Denverite that drawing the gun was an appropriate way to ready the officer for an armed person. Division Chief Ron Thomas said the officer did not have his finger on the trigger and had pointed the gun down, somewhat, in a “ready” position.
Israel and Clarissa Ford, the childrens’ mother, seek payment from the city government to compensate them for physical and mental trauma, as well as for past and future economic damages suffered as a result of the incident.
The plaintiffs also want a formal apology from police officers Jeff Hausner, Timothy Luke and Matthew Wolfe. They want to see the officers disciplined and policy changes instituted, including new training to prevent similar “misconduct” in the future, the complaint states.
Lane, the attorney, told Denverite that his side tried negotiating with the city government but Denver “refused to negotiate.”
A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office could not immediately confirm negotiations.