Colorado man stunned while handcuffed sues sheriff’s office

May 4, 2023, 1:05 PM | Updated: 2:34 pm

Kevin Mehr, attorney representing Kenneth Espinoza, left, and Kenneth's son Nathaniel, speak at a n...

Kevin Mehr, attorney representing Kenneth Espinoza, left, and Kenneth's son Nathaniel, speak at a news conference, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, outside the federal courthouse in Denver. Kenneth Espinoza says he was repeatedly stunned with a Taser while handcuffed, including once in the face, and is suing a Colorado sheriff’s department. The suit filed this week alleges excessive force by two deputies from the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — A man who says he was repeatedly stunned with a Taser while handcuffed, including once in the face, is suing a Colorado sheriff’s department, alleging excessive force by two deputies and also a failure by leaders to train and discipline their employees.

Kenneth Espinoza was arrested Nov. 29, 2022, after he stopped to wait when Deputy Mikhail Noel of the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office pulled over his son, whom he had been following to a car appointment.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court this week, Lt. Henry Trujillo and then Noel ordered Espinoza to leave, saying he should not be near a traffic stop. After initially refusing, Espinoza then started to drive away but Noel pointed his handgun and ordered him to stop.

The suit alleges that Noel used a Taser to stun Espinoza directly on his body while he was in his truck, calling them “drive stuns.”

Body camera video then shows Espinoza being pulled from the truck, handcuffed and squeezed into the back of a patrol car.

As the deputies struggle to get Espinoza into the car, video shows, one warns that he is going to use the Taser on him, and uses an expletive.

One device can be seen contacting Espinoza’s body along with the wires that carry Taser electrodes, as crackling sounds are heard.

Espinoza was hit in the lip after he turned toward the deputies because of the pain of the shocks, according to the lawsuit. The video does not appear to show Espinoza being stunned in the face, but photos released by his lawyer, Kevin Mehr, show him with large scabs on his lip.

Mehr said one probe was lodged 3 centimeters into Espinoza’s gum, according to medical records. He estimates Espinoza was hit about 35 times by Tasers, mostly in the “drive stun” mode directly to his body.

Trujillo and Noel were placed on paid leave during an investigation by an outside agency, Sheriff Derek Navarette said in a statement.

He added that the investigation did not start until April 24 because sheriff’s officials were waiting to find out whether prosecutors would pursue charges against Espinoza. Prosecutors informed them that day, the same one that Espinoza’s lawyer released the body camera video, that they were not going to prosecute. Navarette said prosecutors acknowledged there had been a delay in telling the sheriff’s office of their decision.

He said he would not comment further because of the lawsuit.

A message left at a phone number believed to belong to Trujillo was not immediately returned. A telephone number could immediately not be found for Noel.

Nathaniel Espinoza, the plaintiff’s son, who joined Mehr at a news conference announcing the lawsuit Tuesday, said he and his father were the only “cool heads” during the whole interaction with the deputies, which he thinks helped prevent them from being killed. He added that he does not have a problem with all police, but some are problematic.

“Cops are people, and there are bad people all over,” Nathaniel Espinoza said.

National News

Associated Press

Pat Robertson dies at 93; founded Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Coalition

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93. Robertson’s death Thursday was announced by his broadcasting […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Homes burn as a wildfire rips through a development near Rock Creek Village, Dec. 30, 2021, ...

Associated Press

Authorities to reveal results of investigation into how Colorado’s worst wildfire started

DENVER (AP) — Authorities say they have wrapped up their investigation into what started the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and will announce their findings on Thursday. The blaze destroyed nearly 1,100 homes as heavy winds pushed it across the heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder on Dec. 30, 2021. Two people were […]

1 day ago

Kim Adams of the SOAR Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent drug overdoses in Ohio, packs f...

Associated Press

‘Keep them alive’: More states legalize fentanyl test strips to combat surging opioid deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At Cleveland’s Urban Kutz Barbershop, customers can flip through magazines as they wait, or help themselves to drug screening tests left out in a box on a table with a somber message: “Your drugs could contain fentanyl. Please take free test strips.” Owner Waverly Willis has given out strips for years […]

1 day ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an event to commemorate Pride Month, in the East Room of t...

Associated Press

Biden invites thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals, singer Betty Who, to Pride Month celebration

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has invited thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate Pride Month in a high-profile show of support at a time when the community feels under attack like never before and the White House has little recourse to beat back a flood state-level legislation against them. Biden was announcing new initiatives […]

1 day ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at the Westside Conservative...

Associated Press

The Republican presidential field is largely set. Here are takeaways on where the contest stands.

NEW YORK (AP) — After a trio of new announcements this week, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential field is all but set. A handful of stragglers may jump in later, but as of now there are at least 10 high-profile Republican candidates officially seeking their party’s nomination. And with the announcement phase of the primary […]

1 day ago

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches a drone demonstration as he visits the Friendship Techno...

Associated Press

Biden and Sunak to focus on Ukraine and economic security in British PM’s first White House visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rishi Sunak for wide-ranging talks on Thursday as the British leader makes his first White House visit as premier. The leaders’ Oval Office talks are expected to cover the war in Ukraine, China, economic security, international cooperation on regulating the growing field of artificial intelligence, and more. Biden and Sunak have already […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Colorado man stunned while handcuffed sues sheriff’s office