Excessive force lawsuit: Denver officer said, ‘This is what happens when you elude police, dude’

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DENVER (KDVR) — The words of a Denver police officer caught on body cam may come back to haunt him if Justin Lecheminant’s lawsuit ever goes before a jury.

Shortly after Lecheminant was handcuffed following a physical encounter with Officer Robert Blanc, Blanc can be heard telling Lecheminant, “This is what you get when you elude police.”

Photos of Lecheminant’s facial injuries are included in a federal lawsuit the 42-year-old filed Tuesday morning against the City and County of Denver and four members of the Denver Police Department: Det. Mark Duran, Sgt. Troy Sandoval, Cpl. Daniel Felkins and Officer Robert Blanc.

It’s Blanc who the lawsuit accuses of repeatedly punching Lecheminant after tasing him twice.

It was New Year’s night 2019 when Felkins pulled Lecheminant over for driving without his lights on.

On body cam footage reviewed by sister station KDVR, Felkins asks, “Have you been drinking tonight, sir?” Lecheminant replies, “I have not. I’m about to start but I have not been drinking, I promise.”

Lecheminant had a bottle of tequila in his car.

When Felkins asked Lecheminant to hand over his keys and step out of the car, Lecheminant said, “No, I’m not going to do that,” and drove off. 

Finding Lecheminant wasn’t hard because Felkins still had Lecheminant’s driver’s license in his hand when Lecheminant he drove away.

That’s when Blanc was dispatched to Lecheminant’s home and met him at the back gate as Lecheminant was trying to hustle into his home with his bottle of tequila.

Lecheminant can be heard repeatedly saying, “I’m on private property” as if that might somehow make him immune to being arrested.

Blanc tells him to get on the ground and then tases Lecheminant twice when he doesn’t comply. 

Body cam footage shows Lecheminant pulling Taser prongs out of his chest and at that point, Blanc charges Lecheminant and tackles him to the ground.

“This is a man who was absolutely pummeled, absolutely pummeled,” said Chris Decker, an attorney representing Lecheminant.

Lecheminant’s injuries included a broken nose, a concussion, a punctured eardrum and four broken ribs.  

After Lecheminant was handcuffed, Blanc can be heard saying, “This is what happens when you elude police, dude.”

“I think that was a naked moment of truth,” said Decker, referring to Blanc’s comment on body cam.

“They beat the hell out of him and they beat the hell out of him because they got their feelings hurt and he didn’t comply — not because he was a threat, not because he was resisting, not because he was violent against them,” said Decker.

He filed the lawsuit on Lecheminant’s behalf with attorney Tiffany Drahota, who described the internal police investigation as a “haphazard sham investigation with no fact finding.”

Drahota pointed out Blanc was never placed on leave and her client was never interviewed by internal affairs investigators.

“He (Lecheminant) has a disabled son, that when he came home and his disabled son saw him, they had to actually get a therapist involved because the son was so disturbed by the sight of his father,” Drahota said.

Police arrested Lecheminant for assaulting an officer but the Denver district attorney dismissed the charges.  

Lecheminant did plead guilty to obstruction and felony eluding and received probation.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson told KDVR it would not be appropriate for the department to comment on pending litigation.

In an email, Jackson wrote, “All Use of Force incidents are reviewed by Internal Affairs. No further investigation was opened following the Use of Force review.”

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