A father of an unarmed black man who died after being repeatedly tased by Colorado Springs police, claims in a federal lawsuit that his son’s death was caused by the officers’ use of excessive force.
The suit alleges that two officers’ “violent and completely unreasonable force” led to Jeffrey Melvin Jr.’s death in May 2018. Melvin, 27, was subdued by the officers after being tased five times in a two-minute span inside an east Colorado Springs apartment complex, then trying to escape. Melvin was placed in a medically-induced coma and died about a week later.
Jeffrey Melvin. Image from KKTV video.
City and police officials declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Axon, the company formerly known as TASER International, did not immediately return a request for comment Friday afternoon.
The complaint alleges that on April 26, 2018, officers Daniel Patterson and Joshua Archer encountered Melvin while responding to a noise complaint at an apartment complex in east Colorado Springs.
Shortly after Melvin entered an apartment, Patterson and Archer allegedly began to yell and grab Melvin, while trying to place him in handcuffs, the suit claims. Melvin asked the officers to stop, insisting they had the wrong person, and tried to move away, before he was choked and thrown to the ground.
After Patterson pepper-sprayed Melvin in the face, Melvin tried to escape through the apartment’s second-floor balcony, according to the lawsuit. Archer then tased Melvin, sending a series of shocks though his body within a two-minute span and Patterson pepper-sprayed him again.
Melvin screamed that the officers “were going to kill him” and, as he ran toward the door to escape, Patterson fired his taser, which struck Melvin in the upper torso. After falling to the ground, Melvin ripped the prongs off his chest and ran out of the apartment and across the street, according to the lawsuit.
The officers piled on top of Melvin and placed him in handcuffs. While on the ground, Melvin began to slur his words. He was brought to the hospital, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma. He was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and interference with a public official.
Six days later, he died.
Melvin, a father of four, was diagnosed with lactic acidosis, a condition in which lactic acid accumulates faster than the body can dispose of it. The excessive force of Tasers, which cause intense muscle contractions and a release of lactic acid, resulted in Melvin’s death, the lawsuit alleged.
“Although Mr. Melvin (like almost everyone) had underlying health conditions that made him more vulnerable to profound injury as a result of trauma to his body, there is no doubt that the officers’ conduct caused his death.,” Darold Kilmer, one of the lawyers representing Melvin’s father and his son’s estate, said in an email statement.
The lawsuit cited Melvin’s death as an example of the department’s “pattern of racially-motivated violence” and the city’s failure to adequately train and supervise Colorado Springs police officers when interacting with people of color.
This content was originally published here.