Carbondale resident plans to sue town, claiming police brutality
Carbondale resident Steve “Social” Horn has filed a court motion informing Carbondale officials that he plans to sue the town for what he said was police brutality. The suit stems from Horn’s claim that a Carbondale police officer used excessive force against him during an Aug. 6 traffic stop. Horn is seeking $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The notice was filed on Aug. 12. Carbondale police told the Carbondale Valley Journal last week that the incident occurred after Horn disobeyed a police order to stay in his car after he allegedly ran a stop sign. Police said Horn then walked up to Carbondale police officer Jose Munoz’s police car in what the officer considered a threatening manner. According to Horn’s account, Munoz stunned him six times and, after Horn called other Carbondale police to get help, Munoz overtightened a pair of handcuffs that another police officer placed on Horn’s wrists. Horn said the tightening caused a vein in one of his wrists to collapse.”Officer Munoz then used his stun gun to electronically shock and stab Mr. Horn at least six times while Mr. Horn lay helplessly prone on Fourth Street,” the notice of claim said.Horn’s Glenwood Springs attorney, Richard Dally, said the incident seems extreme. “Maybe somebody ought to run a copy of the U.S. Constitution over to the Carbondale Police Department,” he said. Police Chief Gene Schilling last week defended Munoz. He said Horn was acting irrationally and Munoz’s report claimed Horn was yelling at Munoz and refusing to obey Munoz’s commands. Schilling declined to comment Monday on the court filing. Horn was the assistant director for the Carbondale Mountain Fair this year. He was volunteering to help set up the KDNK Blues, Brews and Barbecue town party when the incident happened.Schilling said Munoz had not had time to call for backup when Horn got out of the pickup and approached him. He said Munoz was afraid the situation was out of his control.When Horn approached again, Munoz applied the stun gun contacts.Horn next evaded Munoz and ran to the Gordon Cooper Library, across the street from where he was pulled over, and called police. He asked to deal with another officer because Munoz was “out of control,” Horn said the day after the incident.Carbondale police officer Scott Wilhelm showed up at the scene, placed Horn under arrest and handcuffed him, at which point the versions of the story vary again.According to Horn, Munoz “pushed Scott out of the way, grabbed the handcuffs and cranked down on them,” injuring Horn’s wrist.Schilling, however, said that was not possible, because officers routinely “double-lock” handcuffs as a matter of policy, so they cannot be tightened any further than they are initially applied.Department policy calls for double-locking of cuffs, which immobilizes the tightening mechanism, unless “the arrest environment is tactically unsafe for the officer to double-lock the handcuffs,” in which case the suspect is to be taken to a safer location and the double-lock engaged.He said the Carbondale Town Council likely will want to hear Schilling’s report on the matter, and perhaps look into it further if staff members suggest that it warrants investigation.Unsure what his response to the case will be, Horn was unhappy in the wake of the incident.”I was a volunteer, working on a town event, and I get stunned by a town police officer,” he said. “This really has me disillusioned.”Horn was charged with running a stop sign, resisting arrest and failure to obey a police officer’s commands.Carbondale Valley Journal editor John Colson contributed to this report. Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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