Lawsuit claims Englewood police used excessive force

Patric Martinez alleges improper beating by officers after not paying cab fare

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/17/20

An El Paso County man has sued the City of Englewood over an allegation of excessive force by three officers of the Englewood Police Department. Patric Martinez is alleging that three Englewood …

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Lawsuit claims Englewood police used excessive force

Patric Martinez alleges improper beating by officers after not paying cab fare

Posted

An El Paso County man has sued the City of Englewood over an allegation of excessive force by three officers of the Englewood Police Department.

Patric Martinez is alleging that three Englewood police officers beat him so badly at his then-home in Englewood that emergency medical personnel on the scene determined he needed to be taken to an emergency room, where he claims he underwent a CT scan to check for brain injuries. The incident stemmed from Martinez not paying a $22 cab fare on Feb. 3, 2019.

On that day, Martinez took a cab ride home from a gentleman's club in Denver to what was then his home in Englewood, located in the 4300 block of South Elati Street, according to the lawsuit. When it came time to pay his cab fare, Martinez couldn't because he had lost his wallet, the lawsuit says — prompting the cab driver to call the police.

Englewood Police Officers Christopher Caggiano and Emily Carreno were dispatched to Martinez's home. Carreno arrived first and approached Martinez's home as if he was a threat, the lawsuit alleges. She then entered his home with “aggression” and began to commit battery on Martinez, the suit claims.

Caggiano arrived shortly after Carreno began assaulting Martinez and assisted her in the assault before Englewood Police Officer Chad Benkelman arrived, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit says Martinez was thrown through a glass shelf by the officers. Caggiano struck Martinez with his knees in the back of Martinez's skull while his face was in a pile of glass that was broken from the incident, according to the lawsuit.

Martinez was then handcuffed and taken to an emergency room at Swedish Hospital, the lawsuit alleges. When he was at the hospital, Martinez was so upset to the point that he needed to be sedated, the lawsuit says. His face was cut, and he had suffered head injuries. Hospital personnel performed a CT scan on him, the lawsuit says.

The incident caused Martinez to sell his home and made him incur nearly $20,000 in medical bills, the lawsuit alleges.

“He was traumatized. He was having nightmares, and he couldn't relax in the home,” said Matthew Beck, Martinez's attorney. “It was a constant source of anxiety. The general facts of the case are not disputed.”

“Englewood doesn't dispute that they physically assaulted (Martinez). They may dispute the legality of it, but they admit to entering his home and they admit it was all for a $22 cab fare. This could've ended with Carreno dropping a ticket in the mailbox, but she chose to escalate,” Beck added.

The lawsuit has not yet been served to Englewood, Beck says. Petty theft is a municipal offense and an arrest wasn't needed to serve Martinez a ticket, the lawsuit says.

What the police report says

Carreno said when she was talking to the cab driver, she saw Martinez standing outside his front door, according to her police report. She walked toward the door, asked Martinez if he was going to pay his fare, and he said yes, her report says. Martinez then went into his house, stood in the middle of his living room and didn't move, according to Carreno.

According to the report, she then opened the storm door, asked Martinez if he was going to pay again, and he said no, and he then invited Carreno into his house. She put her foot over the threshold of the house's door and told Martinez he was under arrest for theft.

As she waited for cover to come, she told Martinez to leave his house and talk to her outside, according to the report. Martinez reportedly refused to exit the house and walked toward an area where Carreno couldn't see him.

According to the report, the scene played out like this: Caggiano arrived and then entered Martinez's home with Carreno. She grabbed Martinez's arm and told him he was under arrest, but he slipped out of his shirt. Carreno grabbed Martinez's arm again, and she and Caggiano held Martinez against a door jamb. The report says Caggiano put one handcuff on Martinez, but he began to pull away, and he grabbed Carreno. Benkelman then arrived and helped take Martinez into custody, but Martinez kept disobeying orders to stop resisting arrest, according to Carreno.

While officers were attempting to take Martinez into custody, his head hit a decorative piece that was hanging in the hallway, and he then fell to the floor and was handcuffed, the report says.

Caggiano and Benkelman escorted Martinez to Carreno's police vehicle, and he yelled out obscenities, the report says. Martinez also refused to enter the vehicle, and while he was being placed in it, he hit his head on top of the door frame, according to the report.

The report says Carreno took Martinez to the hospital, and when they arrived, he refused to exit the vehicle. Caggiano assisted Martinez out of the vehicle and walked with him to the emergency room, the report states.

While Martinez was at the hospital, he kicked at nursing staff, according to the police report, which says he yelled at Carreno and said he was going to sue her.

Englewood Police did not comment on this story as the lawsuit has not been served yet. Martinez was found guilty of obstructing a police officer, a class 2 misdemeanor.

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