A federal lawsuit filed against the Aurora Police Department and three individual officers alleges excessive force led to an officer firing a beanbag round into a man's torso, which led to permanent injury and the loss of his career.
The suit claims Aurora Police shot 51-year-old Shawn Meredith with a beanbag during a call involving an alleged assault at an extended stay hotel room in June 2021.
The officer, Steven Gerdjikian, fired on Meredith point blank with a weapon designed to be fired from a minimum difference of 20 feet. The beanbag round was from a different manufacturer than Aurora Police usually trains with, and do not have a recommended minimum distance. The rounds used travel at speeds up to 184 miles per hour.
Along with Gerdjikian, two other officers, Brandon Samuels and Steven Evans, were called to the hotel after Meredith and his then-fiancée got into a fight. The lawsuit says the woman left and met officers in the parking lot, where she told the officers that Meredith might try to fight them.
When officers got to the room, where Meredith allegedly refused to open the door. After several minutes, officers threatened to break down the door. They did not have a warrant. Eventually, the hotel manager was called where he tried a master key. When that didn't work, the manager opened the door by slamming his shoulder into it with officers behind him.
When the door was opened, Meredith had two metal objects in both hands. He dropped the objects after officers told him he was only being charged with a misdemeanor, and officers approached him with tasers and a less-lethal beanbag shotgun.
The lawsuit says Meredith took one small step toward the officers when Officer Samuels fired his taser and Officer Gerdjikian fired one shot from the beanbag shotgun at his torso from four feet away.
After being shot, the lawsuit claims that Meredith alerted officers to a small pocket knife in his pants, but he did not try to remove it. The officers then allegedly told him not to touch the knife, and shot him again with the beanbag shotgun.
The round lodged itself in Meredith's torso. Meredith lost consciousness and officers could not find a pulse temporarily.
He was revived and taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered the round in his body. The suit claims Meredith was in the hospital for a week before being released into homelessness. He had to return to the emergency room for more treatment.
The misdemeanor assault charges against Meredith were eventually dropped, and the 18th Judicial District DA's office ruled the officers involved did not commit a crime. The suit says the officers told Meredith to open the door 23 times before it was forced open by the hotel employee, the officers made 31 requests for Meredith to step out of the room, six commands to get on the ground after he was tased, and told once not to reach for his pocket knife.
The taser and beanbag have left burns and scars on Meredith's body, according to the lawsuit. Meredith has lost control of his bowels and has lost the ability to work in his job as a commercial truck driver. He has found work as a driver that pays less.
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