Denver, CO – The city of Denver agreed to pay $500,000 to settle an excessive force complaint by two people who behaved badly during a traffic stop and found themselves in handcuffs (video below).
The incident occurred on the evening of Jan. 26, 2017 when a Denver police officer tried to initiate a traffic stop on Kristyn Stonskas in the alley behind her home in East Colfax, the Denver Post reported.
Police bodycam video showed that Stonskas was already yelling at the police officer before she pulled into her driveway and stopped her car.
“She looks like she’s yelling at me,” the officer observed.
When the officer stopped his vehicle behind Stonskas, and the video showed her partner, Quinnel Steele, was standing there waiting for him.
The officer told Stonskas to stay in her vehicle and she immediately began arguing with him.
Steele joined the confrontation and placed himself between Stonskas and the officer, the video showed.
So the officer radioed for backup and continued to try and get through the traffic stop.
But Stonskas was screaming at him and telling the officer to “back the f--k up” as Steele yelled at another officer.
“Do you have your insurance on you?” the officer calmly asked the driver in the video.
“Yes, I do,” Stonskas screeched at him. “Would you back the f--k up and let me get in my car?”
“Why are you being so aggressive though?” Steele asked.
The officer said he wasn’t being aggressive.
“What the f--k is this?” Steele ranted. “You calling for backup for a white girl and a black dude? What? Cuz we stay in the hood? You act like this with Park Hill? Is that your district?”
The video showed Steele continued to berate the officer and told him “that badge don’t mean s--t” until Stonskas screamed at him to shut up while she hunted for her insurance papers.
The officer got into his car to run Stonskas’ information, but then he got out again and asked her to lower her voice as she continued screaming obscenities at another officer who had arrived on the scene, the video showed.
But Stonskas got even louder, ranting about how she had worked a 12-hour day before she got pulled over for “no reason.”
Steele joined in the spectacle, screaming to the officers that there was real crime happening in the neighborhood that they should care about.
“There’s motherf--kers running up and down this motherf--king… vandalizing cars. F----ts, motherf--king pedophiles f--king with kids. Y’all motherf--kers just drove down the street like she broke a real motherf--king law,” he yelled.
A moment later, the officer warned one of the officers who had just arrived to keep an eye on Steele, who he accurately described as “amped up” in the video.
Stonskas took exception to that description and began screaming obscenities at the officer again.
Then she walked over to where several other officers were calmly talking with Steele and tried to intervene. And that’s when everything went sideways.
The video showed an officer put his hand on Stonskas’ arm and she flipped out.
Another officer tried to grab her flailing arm and Stonskas began fighting harder and resisting arrest, the video showed.
As officers struggled with Stonskas, Steele jumped into the fray.
“Why are you doing this?” Steele asked as officer tried to handcuff him.
Officers took both suspects into custody but Stonskas never stopped shrieking obscenities at officers.
Steele sounded much calmer than his female counterpart, the video showed, but he continued complaining in the video.
“I don’t know why y’all just whooped the f--k out of me like I’m a real criminal,” he muttered as the officers walked him to the back of a waiting police car. “That was scandalous as f--k!”
“And I don’t got no warrants right now,” Steele added in the video.
Stonskas was charged with felony second-degree assault and Steele was charged with interference with police and resistance, which are both misdemeanors, the Denver Post reported.
Steele was found not guilty at trial, and the charge against Stonskas was later dismissed, but that wasn’t the end of things.
Their attorney, Michael Fairhurst, said his clients were both seriously injured during the traffic stop gone horrible wrong, the Denver Post reported.
Fairhurst said that Stonskas suffered a traumatic brain injury and a torn vertebra in her neck and was still in pain almost two years after the incident.
The attorney said that Steele had suffered a collapsed lung, a fractured rib, and a traumatic brain injury at the hands of the Denver Police Department, the Denver Post reported.
The city agreed to settle with Stonskas and Steele for a half a million dollars before the couple had even filed a lawsuit.
Fairhurst credited that move to bodycam footage, the Denver Post reported.
“This case is yet another unfortunate example of Denver taxpayers footing the heavy bill for officers of the Denver Police Department who subject innocent citizens to excessive force with impunity,” he said in a press statement on Tuesday, according to KMGH.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING - Language: