Denver is paying $350,000 to a protester who claimed Denver police violated him with a baton

It’s the latest in a slew of costly liability claims involving police this year.
4 min. read
A class of cadets graduate from the Denver Police Academy in Central Park. March 31, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Updated, 4/18, 6:40 p.m.: This article has been updated to include comment from the protester, Michael Jacobs.

Amid the 2020 racial justice protests, a protester accused a Denver police officer of rupturing his anus with a baton. Now, the city is paying him $350,000 to settle a lawsuit involving 15 Denver police officers. The Denver City Council approved the liability claim Monday.

The payment is the latest in a series of claims paid out by Denver this year over allegations of police misconduct dating back to the summer of 2020. In March, Council approved $1.6 million in six different cases involving protesters. Just a week later, the city approved another $110,000 for two other cases. The cases keep coming, on top of the $14 million a jury awarded to protesters in March 2022.

The latest liability claim involves Boulder resident Michael Jacobs, who goes by MikeyJ, who was protesting encampment sweeps in July 2020.

A police report claimed that Jacobs tried to push down a fence around Veterans Park, resisted arrest and tried to take an officer's PepperBall gun. The Denver District Attorney's Office dropped all charges against him related to trying to disarm a police officer.

"You look at this video and your eyes and your ears will tell you a different story," MikeyJ said about what happened that night.

A video that circulated online following the incident showed police officers tackling a person MikeyJ says is himself. One officer can be seen jabbing his baton toward the person's rear end while they're lying on the ground. Denverite reported in 2020 that medical records showed nurses examined Jacobs for injuries related to sexual assault that night, and that records dated two weeks later from a doctor diagnosed him with rectal and anal hemorrhage and hemorrhoids. MikeyJ confirmed this report in an interview with Denverite in September of 2020.

At the time, Denver Police Department (DPD) opened an investigation into the case.

"The Denver Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau investigated this incident and the officer who used his baton was not found to have violated the Department's Use of Force policy, though through the investigation it was determined that same officer failed to make, file or complete official reports," said DPD spokesperson Doug Schepman on Monday.

Schepman declined to comment specifically on the settlement, but said three supervisors were found to have violated a policy regarding written reprimands, and one supervisor received an "oral reprimand" regarding a body-camera policy violation.

MikeyJ and his lawyer, Felipe Bohnet-Gomez, said they only found out that DPD did not find a use of force violation when Denverite asked the pair about the finding on Tuesday.

"I think that it is heinous to think that someone could launch an investigation, review all the facts, review all the evidence and say this is a justified amount of force," MikeyJ said.

Now, the city is paying Jacobs $350,000.

"My reaction is one of many mixed feelings," he said. "There is of course, first and foremost, excitement, relief, freedom, joy. But then it rounds out with some less fun emotions of just exhaustion."

MikeyJ said he still feels the effects of that night. He tore his rotator cuff, and after costly surgery and physical therapy, he still struggles to use his left arm. 

"I'm in my mid-twenties, this is the time for moving and shaking," he said. Instead, he said he felt he had to put his life on hold to manage the fallout from the incident. 

"It shows their [police officers'] heavy handed response to all these protests and just really going overboard in terms of the force in a way that was excessive and way beyond what was necessary," Bohnet-Gomez said.

The case is just one of many involving claims of police misconduct from 2020. A Denverite investigation found that since 2010, Denver paid an average of $1 million in police-related settlements per year. Like other cities across the country, settlements dating back to the 2020 protests have been pushing that figure up, reaching over $3 million in 2022. With this latest claim, Denver has already paid over $2.6 million in police-related settlements in 2023 through April.

Recent Stories