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Denver to pay $500,000 to settle misconduct lawsuits against police officers, sheriff’s deputies

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Denver to pay $500,000 to settle misconduct lawsuits against police officers, sheriff’s deputies


The Denver City Council on Monday is poised to approve a combined $500,000 in payments to settle two lawsuits that accused police officers and sheriff’s deputies of violent misconduct.

The larger of the two settlements — $400,000 — stems from a case filed last spring on behalf of Scott Peters.

Denver police officers and paramedics encountered Peters on the afternoon of April 25, 2021, in a parking lot near Empower Field at Mile High. Officers found a bag of what they believed to be cocaine inside his car, and paramedics injected Peters with sedatives without his permission, according to his lawsuit, first filed in March 2023.

After a stay at Denver Health, Peters was transported to the downtown jail. When attempting to move him from a wheelchair into a cell, deputies became needlessly aggressive, Peters’ attorneys claim.

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Deputies yanked Peters out of the chair and “brutalized” him inside the cell for nearly five minutes, according to the lawsuit, which conflicts with official department accounts of the incident.

One deputy, identified in the complaint as Daniel Rodriguez, used a pair of nunchucks to control Peters’ right arm, according to the lawsuit — and eventually applied enough force to break his wrist and sever two arteries. The injury required emergency surgery and left Peters with permanent damage, the suit says.

Rodriguez was suspended last year for three days for using excessive force against Peters. The incident prompted the Denver Sheriff Department to ban the use of specialized nunchucks for law enforcement officers.

The second settlement stems from accusations that three Denver police officers entered Lidya Ryans’ home in the early morning hours of April 20, 2021, without a warrant and violently arrested her without cause.

Denver is poised to pay $100,000 to settle the matter.

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Ryans called police late on April 19 to request assistance because her then-husband was causing a commotion in the home while her adult son, who suffers from complications related to severe brain damage, was sleeping. When officers arrived, the husband was leaving the house and there was no need for police to enter, according to the lawsuit.

Officers entered the home against Ryans’ wishes, the lawsuit alleges, and then became aggressive with her, waking her son. Officer Grisleit Blanco and Cpl. Patrick Smith punched Ryans in the face and head while arresting her, the suit says.

Ryans was charged with assaulting the two officers, a case that was later dismissed by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, according to the suit.

Between 2017 and 2023, Denver agreed to pay a combined $35.3 million to settle large legal claims brought against the city’s police and sheriff’s departments. That’s 89% of all city settlement payments approved by the council over that period.

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Denver, CO

Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments in transgender cake case

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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments in transgender cake case


The Colorado Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit against a Christian baker who refused to make a cake celebrating a gender transition, one of three such cases from the state that have pitted LGBTQ+ civil rights against First Amendment rights.

Two cases have centered on baker Jack Phillips, who in 2012 refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. Phillips partially prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in that case in 2018.

Phillips was later sued by Autumn Scardina, a transgender woman, after Phillips and his suburban Denver bakery refused to make a pink cake with blue frosting for her birthday that also celebrated her gender transition.

Scardina, an attorney, said she brought the lawsuit to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips’ statements that he would serve LGBTQ+ customers.

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That case to be argued before the Colorado Supreme Court involves the state’s anti-discrimination law against refusing to provide services based on protected characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

The Colorado Court of Appeals previously sided with Scardina, ruling that the cake — on which Scardina did not request any writing — was not a form of speech.

The appeals court noted that Phillips’ shop initially agreed to make the cake but then refused after Scardina explained she was going to use it to celebrate her gender transition, with the blue exterior and pink interior reflecting her male-to-female transition.

“We conclude that creating a pink cake with blue frosting is not inherently expressive and any message or symbolism it provides to an observer would not be attributed to the baker,” read the unanimous ruling by the three-judge appeals court in 2023.

The court also found that the anti-discrimination law did not violate business owners’ right to practice or express their religion.

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Phillips has maintained that the cakes he creates are a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

Another recent case in Colorado centers on freedom of speech and LGBTQ+ rights. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado graphic artist who didn’t want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples.

Graphic artist Lorie Smith, who like Phillips is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, challenged the same state law. The court’s conservative majority said forcing her to create websites for same-sex weddings would violate her free speech rights.

Both sides in the dispute over Scardina’s cake order think the new U.S. Supreme Court ruling will bolster their arguments.

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Denver, CO

Denver bookstore Tattered Cover accepts $1.83 million sales bid from Barnes & Noble

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Denver bookstore Tattered Cover accepts $1.83 million sales bid from Barnes & Noble


The Tattered Cover, a beloved Denver institution and nationally known independent bookstore, has accepted a sales offer from Barnes & Noble, a model for the fictionalized corporate bookstore chain that ran a small independent bookseller out of business in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”

The 53-year-old Denver business, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2023, agreed Monday to accept Barnes & Noble’s offer of up to $1.83 million in cash. The agreement is for Tattered Cover’s four stores and is supported by the bookstore’s parent company, Bended Page.

Under the agreement, the name of the Tattered Cover Book Store and the store’s program of events would continue, according to a motion filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. The buyer, TC Acquisition Co. LLC, an affiliate of Barnes & Noble Inc., anticipates offering jobs to “substantially all” of Tattered Cover’s roughly 70 employees.

The purchase will cover the $1.6 million in secured claims that Tattered Cover owes. Barnes & Noble will pay $50,000 for back rent and plans to extend the leases on the store’s sites.

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The lease on the store’s main location at East Colfax Avenue in Denver will be extended through 2038 and the lease on the store in the Aspen Grove shopping center in Littleton would run through 2030, said Steven Silvers, a spokesman for Bended Page.

Read the full story from our partners at The Denver Post.


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Plane crashes in Steamboat Springs, smoke rises from mobile home park

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Plane crashes in Steamboat Springs, smoke rises from mobile home park


DENVER (KDVR) — A plane crashed Monday in a Steamboat Springs mobile home park, according to reports from the scene.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the crash when FOX31 reached out around 4:45 p.m.

A photo from Steamboat Radio’s Shannon Lukens showed smoke rising from the crash site in the area of West Acres, a Steamboat Springs mobile home park. Lukens said two trailers caught fire.

Lukens spoke with a West Acres resident who was there when the crash happened.

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“I just heard a jet pass by and I just hear a boom, everything around us just shakes,” Beyonce Alegria told Lukens. “There’s screaming, there’s people screaming there’s kids in there. And the houses just go up in flames. You can just feel everything going hot. Ashes are everywhere. It was one of the scariest experiences.”

FOX31 has a crew headed to the scene and is working to develop more information about what happened. Check back here and on FOX31 News at 5 p.m. for updates.



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