UPDATE: As of Friday evening, Oct. 29, Fort Collins Police Services informed CBS4 that the internal affairs department will review the case.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Leadership in Fort Collins Police Services is defending the actions of an officer who used force on a woman experiencing a medical issue at a local church. Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said his team reviewed videos of the forceful takedown and ultimately ruled the actions of his officer were justified and necessary.
(credit: Fort Collins Police)
According to the department, local EMS responded to a call for medical help at a Mennonite church in Fort Collins. Because the initial 911 call only requested for medical assistance police officers were not asked to assist at first.
However, medical professionals contacted dispatch shortly after arriving on scene of the church reporting the person experiencing the medical issue was acting disruptively. Medical professionals asked for an officer to respond, and the call was upgraded to an emergent request. Fort Collins police say the nearest officer was asked to respond to the church using lights and sirens.
When the officer arrived on scene his body camera was rolling, as were security and witness cameras.
In videos circulating online from both the church and Fort Collins Police Services, the woman experiencing the crisis could be seen raising her fist in a reportedly threatening way to the officer.
(credit: Fort Collins Police)
“After a brief interaction, the officer used a trained takedown technique to safely take her into custody. Once in custody, she was transported by medical personnel to an area hospital for evaluation of the medical issue that prompted the initial call for service. No injuries were reported in connection with the arrest,” Swoboda released in a statement.
Fort Collins police said their Mental Health Response Team did not respond to the original call for help because it was originally reported as a medical issue, and the medical staff on scene ultimately called for emergent assistance from an officer.
(credit: Mennonite Fellowship Security)
FCPS said their team reviewed the use of force through both body camera footage and a portion of video the Mennonite church provided police. Police said witnesses on scene refused to provide their personal recordings for further review.
“Officers respond to the actions of those they encounter, and in some cases, using force becomes an unfortunate necessity,” Swoboda said. “In every situation, our goal is always to resolve situations as safely as possible.”
The pastor of the church, Steve Ramer, told CBS4 that they recognized that the woman was having a mental health emergency and when 911 was called, they specifically asked that the police not be sent.
Ramer feels that the officers who responded did not attempt to de-escalate the situation, stating “the officer’s actions were not what we expect from our police.”
He has filed a complaint with the ACLU and hopes they work with the police to re-examine their training, procedures and discipline.