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Jefferson County agrees to pay Colorado inmate $500,000 after video shows him dropped on his face

Jeffco agrees to pay inmate $500,000 after video shows him dropped on his face
County in Colorado agrees to pay inmate $500,000 after video shows him dropped on his face 00:27

Jefferson County has agreed to pay a former inmate $500,000 for a 2022 use of force incident that appeared to show jail deputies dropping the handcuffed prisoner on his face.

Deputies attempting to get Fisk to knees so he could be transported by wheelchair to the next unit, but instead sweeping his feet out from under him while handcuffed.  Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Deputies have rolled Fredrick Fisk to his side after he slammed into the ground.  Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Deputies said Frederick Fisk, who was 54 at the time, was having a mental health episode on the night of Nov. 20, 2022 and needed to be escorted to a different unit. Jail surveillance video showed Fisk, with his hands cuffed behind his back, being walked down a jail hallway by deputies when he stopped and would not walk any farther.

Then, video shows two deputies grabbed each of his legs out from under him, and he slammed into the concrete ground face-first. A pool of blood formed under his face.

Karlyn Tilley, a public information officer for the sheriff's office, said on Wednesday, "The takedown, particularly while Mr. Fisk was handcuffed causing him to hit his face on the floor, was unjustified in its application. This administration does not condone this type of conduct. That said, the use of force appears to have been a result of inexperience and poor judgement, rather than malice."

On June 14, Fisk signed a settlement agreement with Jefferson County agreeing to accept $500,000 in exchange for him dropping any legal claims.

Fredrick Fisk before becoming incarcerated.  Shannon Fisk

David Lane, Fisk's attorney, said the lump sum settlement will not be the end of the case, since the deputies involved were not criminally charged.

"The fact that no local law enforcement is interested in enforcing the law against their own leaves me no choice but to reach out to the United States Department of Justice and seek a federal civil rights prosecution," said Lane.

"When the police investigate the police it always works out very well for the police," Lane said. "These deputies absolutely should be charged with felony assault."

In the agreement, Jefferson County does not admit liability for the incident and does not admit "any wrongful or improper actions."

In their initial written reports, Jeffco deputies blamed Fisk for the fall. In a written report obtained by CBS News Colorado in 2023, one of the deputies wrote, "I'm not afraid to take a b**** down," and "the ankle pick worked, that was great."

Jefferson County Sheriff's Commander Chris Felton later repudiated those comments, saying, "it's absolutely not in line with the values of Jefferson County, those comments are not tolerated, I will never defend those comments. That's posturing, that's arrogant, and that's not what we are."

Tilley said all three deputies connected to the incident are still employed by the sheriff's office. She said two deputies were disciplined and received remedial training for report writing and arrest control. One was suspended without pay and a sergeant received a written reprimand and was removed as an arrest control instructor.

Attorney David Lane contends those actions fall short.

"The fact that these deputies were not prosecuted after a 'full investigation' by their office is a perfect example of the kind of corruption that is endemic to local law enforcement."

The agreement obtained by CBS News Colorado calls for neither side to disparage the other party's "professional or personal reputation for character, integrity, or competence."

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