Deaf man files civil suit against Idaho Springs police, county jail for 2019 arrest

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/24/21

A deaf man has filed a suit against former Idaho Springs police officer Nicholas Hanning, current ISPD officer Ellie Summers, the City of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek Board of County …

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Deaf man files civil suit against Idaho Springs police, county jail for 2019 arrest

Posted

A deaf man has filed a suit against former Idaho Springs police officer Nicholas Hanning, current ISPD officer Ellie Summers, the City of Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek Board of County Commissioners after he was arrested and jailed following a Sept. 2019 traffic stop.

Brady Mistic and his legal team filed the complaint and jury demand on Sept. 17, 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The claim states that Mistic was the victim of “unnecessary police force and wrongful incarceration,” and that neither ISPD officers nor jail staff had adequate training or equipment to accommodate him.

These circumstances are “likely demonstrative of much larger systematic problems” within the city and jail, the claim states.

Both Mistic's claim and the Idaho Springs Police Department confirm that Hanning and Summers contacted Mistic around 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2019, in the 1300 block of Miner Street for a reported stop-sign violation.

Because Mistic is completely deaf in both ears, he uses American Sign Language to communicate, according to the claim. He cannot lip-read and can only vocalize a few words.

Mistic, then 24, attempted to communicate with the officers using his hands. Hanning and Summers, who were unaware Mistic was deaf, told him to get back in his vehicle, a Sept. 23 ISPD press release states.

Both Mistic's claim and ISPD explain that Hanning put Mistic into handcuffs because of his unexplained actions, and that Hanning sustained a broken leg during the altercation.

The claim states, though, that Hanning was unnecessarily forceful when restraining Mistic. He reportedly didn't give Mistic any warning, grabbed his sweatshirt and threw him to the ground, with Mistic's head hitting the concrete.

Mistic, who was unarmed, was hit with a stun-gun twice and yelled “no ears” during the altercation in an attempt to communicate that he was deaf, according to his claim.

After he was handcuffed, EMS personnel took Mistic to a hospital for evaluation and he was later taken to the county jail. He was charged with assault on a first responder, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest.

Then-ISPD Chief Chris Malanka reviewed the incident and concluded the officers' actions were appropriate, the ISPD press release describes. Summers was in training at the time.

During his four-month stay at the county jail, Mistic's claim asserts that he was not provided with an interpreter or any equipment to communicate his needs, other than paper, which was given sparingly.

“Mr. Mistic felt alone, confused, and helpless to understand or interact effectively in the jail environment or with the outside world,” the claim continues. “He was frustrated that he could not explain that (Hanning and Summers) had misunderstood his behavior, used force without justification, and that he was innocent.”

The criminal case ultimately terminated in Mistic's favor, with the ISPD press release explaining that he participated in a diversion program in lieu of formal charges being filed.

The ISPD has declined further comment on the incident, because of the ongoing litigation.

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