When Brady Mistic drove into the parking lot of a Colorado laundromat one fall day in 2019, he thought he was about to run a routine errand.
But moments after exiting his car, Mistic was blinded by the lights of a parked police cruiser. Two Idaho Springs police officers began shouting commands at Mistic, who was 24 at the time. One officer threw him to the ground, and the other stunned Mistic with her Taser, according to a new federal lawsuit.
The officers claim Mistic resisted arrest, but the Colorado resident says there was a different reason for his confused behavior when police confronted him: He couldn’t hear them. Mistic is deaf in both ears, isn’t able to lip-read, and uses American Sign Language to communicate.
Now, the Colorado resident is suing the two officers, the city of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek County board of commissioners, arguing that police violated his civil rights when they violently arrested him without warning.
“They went to force unreasonably fast, unreasonably rashly, without any legitimate justification for using force, which is particularly problematic for a person who’s disabled like Mr. Mistic was,” Raymond Bryant, Mistic’s attorney, told NPR.
Mistic spent more than four months in jail only to have the charges against him eventually dropped, the suit says.
In a statement, the Idaho Springs Police Department said the two officers didn’t know Mistic was deaf during the initial encounter and maintained that Mistic resisted arrest, causing one of the officers to break his leg.
The department added that former Idaho Springs Police Chief Christian Malanka reviewed the incident and found that the officers’ actions were appropriate.
Mistic’s arrest and the aftermath
On Sept. 17, 2019, former Idaho Springs Police Officer Nicholas Hanning and Officer Ellie Summers, who was in training at the time of the arrest, followed Mistic into the laundromat parking lot after they allegedly witnessed him run a stop sign.
Mistic got out of his car and started walking toward the laundromat. Police say Hanning and Summers ordered him to get back into his car and, when he didn’t, tried to place him in handcuffs “due to his unexplained actions,” at which point he resisted arrest.
But he didn’t know what the officers wanted or even if their “presence had anything to do with him,” according to the lawsuit Mistic filed in a Colorado federal court earlier this month.
Bryant said his client did not resist arrest, but rather put his hands up when the officers approached him. “A person would have to know they’re under arrest in order to resist arrest,” Bryant said.
After he was on the ground, Mistic yelled “no ears” to try to communicate to the officers that he was deaf, but they ignored him, the suit claims.
Officer Summers told emergency medical staff called to the scene that Mistic was deaf, but neither officer ever tried to secure an ASL interpreter, according to the suit.
Mistic then spent more than four months in jail and says he was repeatedly denied an interpreter.
Police charged Mistic with assault on a first responder, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. He was also charged with possession of forged currency, the suit says, because police found movie-prop money in his wallet.
The charges were later dropped, according to the lawsuit. Police said the District Attorney’s Office for the 5th Judicial District let Mistic participate in a diversion program in lieu of facing formal charges.
Hanning was later charged with third-degree assault and fired from the police force in a separate case in which he allegedly used his Taser on a 75-year-old man, according to the Associated Press. Summers, who Tased Mistic, is still an officer with the Idaho Springs police.