Kenneth Espinoza (2022)

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Overview

Deputy Noel's body-worn camera of the incident
Body-worn camera footage at the jail

On November 29, 2022, Espinoza was driving his vehicle to a mechanic while his son shadowed him in another vehicle. Las Animas County Colorado Sheriff's Office Deputy Mikhail Noel was also on the road and stopped Espinoza's son for following Noel too closely. During the stop, Espinoza pulled to the side of the road to wait for his son.[1]

Lieutenant Henry Trujillo approached Espinoza to determine why he had stopped at the scene. Trujillo told Espinoza that he needed to leave or he faced arrest. Noel also told Espinoza to leave. When Espinoza attempted to back out of the scene, both officers pulled weapons and ordered him to stop. Noel claimed that Espinoza tried to hit him with the truck. Espinoza was removed from his vehicle and handcuffed. Espinoza's lawyer claims that the officers tased him about 35 times during the incident.[1][2]

An officer continued to argue with Espinoza at the jail.[3]

The incident was captured on officers' body-worn cameras.[1]

Both officers reported that Espinoza was uncooperative and tried to kick them.[1]

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation.[2]

On May 5, 2023, Espinoza and his son filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the agency and the officers.[4]

On August 25, 2023, the officers were fired for violating agency policies, including inappropriately using a Taser while Espinoza was handcuffed and filing an inaccurate report about the incident.[1]

On December 4, 2023, Noel voluntarily surrendered his certification.[5]

On March 4, 2024, the county agreed to pay Espinoza $1.5 million to settle his lawsuits.[2]

Officers Involved


References