A lawsuit filed in El Paso County last week alleges that a Colorado Springs police officer pepper sprayed a 17-year-old girl twice while she was handcuffed in the backseat of a police car. The lawsuit alleges that on Oct. 17, 2020, Amara Keens-Dumas was approached by officers Ryan Yoshimiya and Brianna Ragsdale around 3 a.m. after someone told police that Keens-Dumas had gotten into a verbal altercation with her boyfriend.
Officers responded to the scene but were asked by Keens-Dumas’ brother to leave. But 45 minutes later the officers returned to the house when Keens-Dumas began crying in the street, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit states that two officers handcuffed Keens-Dumas and forced her against the side of their police vehicle. When Yoshimiya touched her leg, despite Keens-Dumas asking him not to, it triggered a “trauma response” because she was a victim of rape, something her brother had told officers on their first visit to the house.
“Rather than de-escalate the situation created by their unnecessary groping of Ms. Keens-Dumas, Defendants Ragsdale and Yoshimiya forcefully put her onto the asphalt. Both officers put their weight on Ms. Keens-Dumas, which caused painful cuts, scrapes, and bruising on her arms, knees, and legs,” the lawsuit states. The incident was recorded by a bystander who had initially called the police and was “horrified,” according to the lawsuit. Eventually, the two officers placed Keens-Dumas in the police car, where she said: “Give me my phone. I’m a minor. Give me my mom,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims that after Keens-Dumas was placed in the police car, Sgt. Gregory Wilhelmi arrived and asked Yoshimiya “has she been sprayed.” The lawsuit alleges that Yoshimiya told the teenage girl that if she didn’t stop screaming, she would be pepper sprayed. When Keens-Dumas continued to request to call her mother, Wilhelmi responded by pepper spraying Keens-Dumas twice in the backseat of the police car.
“When Defendant Wilhelmi sprayed Ms. Keens-Dumas with pepper spray, Defendant Yoshimiya coughed — at the opposite end of the vehicle — and closed the left rear door. He thereby locked Ms. Keens-Dumas in the police car, sitting in a fog of pepper spray, with the doors and windows closed. She was essentially imprisoned in a gas chamber with no escape from the excruciatingly painful pepper spray,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that after the incident the police did not send Keens-Dumas to a hospital, but rather took her to the police station where she was eventually picked up by her mother. “Defendants’ uses of force against Ms. Keens-Dumas, including the use of pepper spray while she was restrained in the back of the police car, were grossly excessive,” the lawsuit states.
If you are seriously injured in Colorado Springs, Colorado, due to someone else’s carelessness, contact our Colorado Springs personal injury lawyers at at our firm. If your injury isn’t through any fault of your own, you may not be responsible for paying for related medical bills or property repairs. Our attorneys can help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers for more information.