Lawsuit says Westminster police used stun gun on 78-year-old man

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DENVER  | A 79-year-old man who says he suffers from medical and emotional health issues has filed an excessive-force lawsuit alleging that a Westminster police officer threw him to the ground and used a stun gun on him causing severe pain and bleeding in 2020.

In the lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Denver, Clayton Shriver said he was experiencing a “mental health episode and/or medical crisis” when Officers Michael Owen and Tyler Farson arrested him on charges of trespassing, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest after he failed to leave a part of a McDonald’s inside a Walmart store in Westminster where the seating had been closed, The Denver Post reported.

According to the lawsuit, Shriver, 78 at the time, sat down because he felt ill while shopping and could not understand what McDonald’s employees were saying to him and began raising his voice, leading police to be called.

The Westminster Police Department released a statement Wednesday saying it did not receive an excessive-force complaint before Shriver filed a notice of his intent to sue, nearly a year after his arrest. The department also said Owen was trying to take Shriver into custody when Shriver resisted and kicked him while the two were on the ground.

According to the lawsuit, Shriver, who suffers from “multiple closed head injuries and traumatic brain injuries,” memory loss, hearing loss and a mood disorder, tried to explain to Owen that he was suffering from a medical condition, but Owen had trouble understanding him.

Shriver thought he was being asked to leave and when he stood up and tried to walk away, Owen grabbed him and threw him to the ground, the lawsuit said. Shriver then “stiffened up” and tried to roll over because of pain and Owen used a stun gun on him, the complaint said. After Shriver cursed at Owen and tried to remove the probes from his body, Farson arrived to help arrest Shriver and Owen used the stun gun again.

The lawsuit said Owen used excessive force, alleges Farson failed to intervene and that both committed false arrest. The lawsuit also alleges that Westminster failed to properly train and supervise its officers. It says that all charges against Shriver were dropped.

The police news release Wednesday said three independent, civilian witnesses refuted Shriver’s allegation of excessive force, and an independent civilian review board determined the officers “acted within policy and procedure.”

Both officers left the department in 2021, and the news release said their departures were unrelated to Shriver’s accusations.

A message left at the city attorney’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

 

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