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Man files lawsuit against Aurora police officers after he was shot with bean bag

New information revealed surrounding Aurora PD's latest lawsuit filed against them
New information revealed surrounding Aurora PD's latest lawsuit filed against them 02:46

A man who police attempted to get out of an Aurora extended stay hotel room after a 2021 domestic violence call, is now suing the Aurora Police Department and three officers on its force. Shawn Meredith claims his rights were violated in his removal from the room and excessive force was used. 

"They had plenty of time if they had been intending to get a warrant to do that, which is what they needed to do to stop him and say no we're not breaking into this man's home," said an attorney for Meredith, Darren O'Connor. "We think there was never any reason to use force in the first place."

Police were called to the lnTown Suites on East Evans Avenue in late June 2021. Meredith and his girlfriend had an argument, which allegedly included him pushing her out of the room. She had slight visible injuries when police arrived. 

Aurora Police

"At this point, since he's not opening the door and we're not able to go in, what I'm going to do is I'm going to file for a warrant for his arrest," an officer is heard on a body camera recording shared by the plaintiff. A few minutes later, a sergeant told other officers, "If the lock's done at the top we'll give him lawful orders for a few minutes. We'll try and de-escalate and if he doesn't, we'll boot the door."

Police got the help of a hotel manager to try a card key to unlock the door. When it did not work, the manager using his shoulder, broke it open. Inside Meredith stood with a metal object on the other side of the room. After police said he would not be charged with a felony, he dropped it.

Then as Meredith stood in the room, inside the door the conflict escalated. 

"You can see in the video for yourself whether one would think they were under some sort of threat that required life-endangering force to stop him," said O'Connor. 

As Meredith stepped forward toward the doorway, police fired first a taser, then a shotgun equipped to fire bean bag rounds. Meredith, who had been drinking, did not go down. He pointed at a small knife in his belt and asked police to take it, which they did. Soon after they wrestled him out the door and subdued him on the floor.

One of the bean bag rounds hit him in the abdomen. 

"He was struck right in the, just about the belly button," said O'Connor. "Then the bean bag traveled subcutaneously down to his hip. So they had to do surgery to remove that." 

On the floor, Meredith became unresponsive. Police could not, for a time, find a pulse. He was soon after revived. O'Connor says Meredith is unable to continue his work as a long haul trucker he used to do, but has gotten a job in trucking locally. He says Meredith is under doctor's orders not to lift over 10 pounds. 

"He still has hernias that bulge out at times and it leaves him vomiting. As a result, he's got bowel problems."

The lawsuit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages in an unspecified amount, was filed in federal court. 

"First of all, I go back to he was within his room and therefore the 4th Amendment requires they should have had a warrant to do anything," says O'Connor. 

The Aurora Police Department, which said in a statement Wednesday that it could not comment on pending litigation, in a statement the day after the incident in 2021 said, "Attempts to de-escalate the situation were not successful and during the arrest, he was shot with a taser, which had no effect on him, and then two rounds from a less-lethal shotgun, also having little to no effect." 

But later in the same statement indicated a follow-up found out there was injury, "Today investigators discovered that a round fired from the less-lethal shotgun had penetrated the man's abdomen. Thankfully, he is expected to survive his injuries."

Charges against Meredith were later dropped.

O'Conner claims that first Meredith's 4th Amendment rights to unreasonable search and seizure were violated when police did not seek a warrant to go into the room and that police used excessive force during the confrontation. The bean bag rounds he believes were not the same as those officers are trained to use. The rounds Meredith was hit with contained metal shot that caused his severe injury. He does not know who would have decided to use a shot for which the recommended firing distance was greater. 

"They do have training and they're told that it's safe to shoot from a minimum distance of close to point blank. So by changing that and not alerting their officers, we think that was a policy error that unfortunately led to what happened with Mr. Meredith ending up in the hospital."

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