Two Colorado cops are being sued by a 79-year-old disabled man who says they tasered him twice and threw him to the ground after he sat in a section of a McDonald’s that was closed off due to COVID-19.
Clayton Shriver waited for his partner at a McDonald’s inside a Walmart in Westminster, Colorado, on May 15, 2020.
Restaurant staff said he had to buy something or leave, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying because of various impairments, including hearing loss and previous traumatic brain injuries, according to the lawsuit.
An officer who was already in the store was called over. When Shriver tried to walk to his car, he was tackled to the ground and tasered, he says. A second officer who arrived for backup allegedly tasered him again.
The incident left Shriver with right hip pain and limited motion in his right shoulder.
The Westminster Police Department said the incident, which was caught on video, was reviewed by a civilian review board and independent witnesses who found no evidence of excessive force. The two officers involved, Michael Owen and Tyler Farson, resigned last year for ‘unrelated’ reasons, police said.
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Clayton Shriver, 79, was tackled to the ground and tasered twice by two officers after he suffered a medical emergency in a Walmart McDonald’s in 2020, according to a lawsuit. Above, Shriver holds a bloodied shirt from the incident
Video from the incident shows Shriver sitting in a stool while speaking to a Westminster officer
Shriver says he was walking away to go to his car when the officer tackled him and tasered him
The retired sub-station engineer was taken to the hospital with multiple injuries (above) including severe right knee and elbow pain, a right knee abrasion, and a right elbow contusion
‘It defies common sense that two healthy officers in good physical condition reasonably took down and twice tased 78-year-old Mr. Shriver, who suffers from significant debilitating and limiting medical impairments,’ according to the lawsuit, which was filed last week in US District Court in Colorado.
Shriver is suing the Westminster Police Department and the two officers for excessive force, malicious prosecution and failure to train and supervise. He is asking for unspecified damages.
‘At no time did Mr. Shriver pose an immediate threat to the safety of the Defendants or anyone else in the McDonald’s or Wal-Mart,’ the lawsuit states.
Video of the incident released by police shows Shriver, a retired sub-station engineer, standing in the McDonald’s wearing a grey shirt and a green neck gaiter.
‘We ask the public to review every situation based upon the unique set of facts and circumstance specific to that particular event and not make comparisons to other incidents,’ police said in a description of the video, posted on Youtube on Wednesday.
Shriver appears to briefly speak to an officer before turning around, pointing at a witness behind him and approaching him, prompting the officer to pull him back.
He sits back down and speaks to the officer from a stool before he gets back up to walk away.
Shriver says he was tasered once by Officer Michael Owen and again by Officer Tyler Farson, causing him to bleed. Above, Shriver holds a pair of bloody underwear
Shriver says he posed no threat and that officers couldn’t understand him because of his various medical conditions
The incident took place at a McDonald’s inside a Walmart in Westminster, Colorado (above) on May 15, 2020
The officer grabs Shriver and a struggle ensues as customers crowd around them.
Shriver remains on the ground for several minutes as the officer is seen pointing a taser at him and rifling through Shriver’s wallet.
‘I have no idea why it escalated. … I think it was really hard for the officers and the workers to understand him because he’s in the middle of a medical emergency, and so, I don’t think he was clearly communicating, but that was due to his health,’ Shriver’s attorney Tiffany Drahota told KDVR.
Shriver had multiple issues that complicated his hearing, according to the lawsuit, among them: closed head injuries and traumatic brain injuries, memory loss, organic mood disorder, peripheral neuropathy, bilateral osteoarthritis of the knees, bilateral total knee arthroplasty, left-sided sensorineural hearing loss with right side restricted hearing, and spinal stenosis of the lumbar spine with neurogenic claudication.
When staff told him he needed to buy something or leave, Shriver raised his voice to say he needed medical help.
‘Mr. Shriver was unable to speak clearly at the time due to his condition,’ the lawsuit states.
Officer Michael Owen was called over by Walmart loss prevention.
Owen saw Shriver sitting in the ‘no sitting’ area. Shriver allegedly told the officer he was having a medical condition.
McDonald’s staff complained to Owen about Shriver, who put his hands up and said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m in terrible pain.’
Shriver is suing the Westminster Police Department and the two officers for excessive force, malicious prosecution and failure to train and supervise. He is asking for unspecified damages
‘Mr. Shriver further thought he heard that he was being asked to leave so placed his hands on the seat and began to pull himself up vertical to stand up, telling Defendant Owen, “Okay, I’ll go to my car,”‘ the lawsuit states.
That’s when, the suit says, Owen grabbed Shriver, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him, according to the 22-page lawsuit.
Owen allegedly tased Shriver in the stomach and thigh, despite ‘AXON recommendations that the taser not be used against elderly individuals.’
The 79-year-old continues to have right hip pain lacks full range of motion in his right shoulder, the lawsuit states. Above, a photo of an injury suffered during the incident
Shriver called Owen a ‘little s***’ and began pulling the taser probes out of his body.
A second officer, Farson, arrived and tased Shriver again in the lower back and buttocks.
Shriver was then taken to the hospital with multiple injuries, including severe right knee and elbow pain, a right knee abrasion, and a right elbow contusion.
The 79-year-old continues to have right hip pain (and) lacks full range of motion in his right shoulder, the lawsuit states.
‘Mr. Shriver continues to receive follow-up care for the physical injuries he sustained as a result of the excessive force used by the Defendants.’
Shriver was criminally charged with trespassing, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest, but the charges were later dropped.
Westminster Police said the incident was reviewed by multiple bodies, both within the department and outside, who have concluded that no excessive use of force took place. They also say the two officers involved resigned last year, according to a statement obtained by KDVR.
‘The Westminster Police Department was notified on January 18, 2022 of a lawsuit filed in US District Court regarding allegations of excessive force by two of our officers.
‘The Westminster Police Department (WPD) did not receive a complaint of excessive force regarding this case prior to the notice of intent to sue from Mr. Shriver in April 2021 – nearly a year after the arrest.
‘WPD takes use-of-force seriously, and upon notice from Mr. Shriver’s attorney, WPD initiated an internal affairs investigation per department policy. The case was investigated by an internal affairs sergeant who gathered the facts, collected evidence, and completed witness interviews. Three independent, civilian witnesses refuted the allegation of excessive force in this case.
‘These facts were then presented to an independent civilian review board to determine if the officers acted within policy and procedure. The board determined both officers acted within policy and procedure. The investigation was also reviewed by police department command personnel who determined the officer’s actions were within policy and procedure.
‘Prior to the notice of intent to sue, Officer Michael Owen resigned from the department in February 2021 as a Senior Police Officer. Officer Tyler Farson also resigned from the department in May 2021 as a Senior Police Officer. Both officers left the department to pursue other opportunities and their departure was unrelated to Mr. Shriver. WPD officers were not equipped with body-worn cameras until January 2022. However, the surveillance footage from inside of the store was reviewed during the internal investigation.’
In September, another Colorado Walmart led to a huge payout for a 73-year-old woman with dementia who was beaten during an arrest and left in lockup for six hours without medical care.
The city of Loveland paid $3 million to settle a federal police brutality lawsuit.
The elderly woman, Karen Garner, was arrested by now-former Loveland police officers Austin Hopp, 26, and Daria Jalali, 27, on June 26, 2020 after she inadvertently left Walmart without paying for $13.38 worth of items.
Bodycam footage showed Hopp throwing Karen Garner to the ground on June 26, 2020
Garner’s family said she was a happy grandmother (right) before the traumatizing arrest in June 2020 where she was left in a jail cell in pain with her broken arm still cuffed behind her (left)
They were seen in bodycam footage slamming Garner to the ground and twisting her arm, which resulted in a fractured elbow and dislocated arm, according to a federal lawsuit filed in April.
Garner was left in a jail cell for more than six hours and is seen in security footage from the cell crying out for help 51 times in the first hour alone.
‘This is justice for mom,’ Allisa Swartz said, while fighting back tears during a press conference.
Shannon Steward, Garner’s daughter-in-law, said the incident was ‘the lowest form of human behavior and indecency, particularly by people who should be respected and know how to show respect.’
Police Chief Bob Ticer said in a statement that ‘there is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner.’
‘We have agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust. While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.’