A woman whose assault by a police officer in a Denver city jail was captured on camera has sued the former police officer and the city of Denver.
Attorneys David Lane and Eudoxie Dickey filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Seryina Trujillo against former Denver police officer James Medina, police officer Cheryl Smith and Denver police Chief Robert White. Trujillo seeks compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees. The lawsuit also seeks court-ordered training changes for Denver police officers.
In March, the Civil Service Commission fired Medina for a second time for using excessive force against Trujillo. The action was taken after a hearing officer reinstated Medina to the force.
Trujillo was accused of interfering with officers and firefighters as they attempted to take two men to the Denver Cares detox unit on July 10, 2014. She spit on Medina as she was being escorted to a police car and kicked him in the face. Medina and Smith arrested Trujillo, then 23.
Officer James Medina was “dismissed” from the Denver Police Department for “inappropriate force” after pinning a woman’s neck with his knee and failing to report the incident.
Smith was accused of calling Trujillo names and using excessive force. Smith pushed her face down on the ground and dragged the handcuffed woman from behind by her arms, inflicting injuries and severe pain, the lawsuit says.
In violation of numerous police policies, Medina was alone when he brought Trujillo into a holding cell while armed with a gun, the lawsuit says. Medina then assaulted Trujillo in an effort to remove her belt and shoes “at any cost to her life,” the lawsuit says.
A camera recorded a series of assaults including Medina choking Trujillo with his hands, smashing her head against the wall and putting his knee on her neck as she was lying prone on the floor.
“As a result of this carotid artery compression, plaintiff lost consciousness and lifelessly slid down to the cell floor as soon as defendant Medina removed his knee from her throat, hitting her head on the hard cell floor,” the lawsuit says.
Instead of seeking medical help for Trujillo, Medina told her to “tell it to God,” and told her she was getting another charge, the lawsuit says.
Trujillo, now 25, is a member of the Pueblo Ute tribe, and is a mother of five children, ages six months to 9 years.