Colorado Springs police officers took a 17-year-old high school student to the ground before pepper-spraying her in the back of a police cruiser — despite the teen being unarmed and having committed no crime, a recently filed lawsuit alleges.
Amara Keens-Dumas, in a complaint filed Friday in El Paso County District Court, accuses Sgt. Gregory Wilhelmi, Officer Ryan Yoshimiya and Officer Brianna Ragsdale of “unreasonable and excessive physical force” when they pepper-sprayed her twice two years ago.
“If there was ever going to be real accountability, these cops would be prosecuted for assault and fired from their jobs,” the now-19-year-old’s attorney, David Lane, said Monday.
A Colorado Springs police spokesman declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Police arrived at the Parc Apartments around 3 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2020, after a bystander reported seeing Keens-Dumas and her then-boyfriend arguing outside the building, the lawsuit states.
The teen, in body-camera footage and video taken by a bystander, was emotionally distraught and had been drinking that night. Her brother told police that she had recently been raped and was still traumatized from the assault, according to the complaint.
When officers couldn’t get Keens-Dumas to leave the median, they pushed her into the side of the police cruiser, video shows. One of the officers touched her thigh, the lawsuit alleges, an act that sent her spiraling.
As she yelled “don’t touch my leg” and became more distraught, two officers took Keens-Dumas to the ground, causing the teen “painful cuts, scrapes and bruising to her arms, knees and legs,” the complaint says.
She begged the officers to let her call her mother. She then started hyperventilating, video shows, telling police she was having a panic attack.
“I’m a minor,” Keens-Dumas repeated to officers. “I get a phone call.”
After handcuffing Keens-Dumas and placing her in the back seat of a patrol car, police then pepper-sprayed the teen twice, once in the forehead and the next time in her eyes and nose, the complaint alleges.
“She was essentially imprisoned in a gas chamber with no escape from the excruciatingly painful pepper spray,” the lawsuit claims.
Police let her sit in the back seat of the vehicle for 10 minutes without medical assistance, according to the complaint.
She was booked on obstruction and took a deferred judgment, Lane said. That night, she was taken to the police station and released into her mother’s custody.
“Even now, two years later, she has a PTSD response to this incident,” the attorney said.
He called for the officers to pay damages out of their own pockets.
“But, of course, that will never happen,” Lane said. “This will be white-washed.”