Darren O'Connor, LLC, and Hutchinson, Black and Cook, LLC, to secure $95,000 Settlement for client
CONTACT INFORMATION: Dan Williams (303) 442-6514
Darren O’Connor (720) 961-3869
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sammie Lawrence Settles Federal Police Misconduct Lawsuit Against City of Boulder
Sammie Lawrence and the City of Boulder have agreed to settle a civil rights lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado arising from a Boulder Police Officer’s
wrongful and violent arrest of Mr. Lawrence at the Mapleton Ballfields on April 10, 2019. The
settlement includes a payment of $95,000 and release of use-of-force data. It is conditioned on approval by the Boulder City Council at its upcoming January 4, 2022 meeting.
Boulder Police Officer Waylon Lolotai arrested Mr. Lawrence when Mr. Lawrence exercised his right to observe and record Officer Lolotai, who at the time was harassing individuals then experiencing homelessness who were present at the park. When Mr. Lawrence refused to leave the scene, Officer Lolotai violently threw him to the ground and arrested him, all without probable cause. In the months following Mr. Lawrence’s arrest, the current Boulder Police Chief and the former Boulder City Attorney commended Officer Lolotai’s work as a police officer and steadfastly defended his conduct.
In the face of the City of Boulder condoning Officer Lolotai’s misconduct, Mr. Lawrence filed a
federal civil rights lawsuit. A police-practices expert retained for purposes of the lawsuit, Sergeant Natasha Powers-Marakis (Retired) concluded: “the actions of [Officer] Loloati were not in concert with generally accepted police practices.” [Full expert report available upon request.]
In a settlement agreement that has been submitted to Boulder City Council for approval on
January 4, the City has agreed to pay Mr. Lawrence $95,000 and to provide data regarding how frequently Boulder Police Officers have used force, including drawing weapons, from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.
“This settlement affords some measure of justice to Sammie Lawrence, and the data it requires the City to disclose will shed light on just how routinely Boulder police use force against the people of Boulder. We hope this settlement will prompt introspection from City officials, whose lofty rhetoric around policing has lagged far behind the reality of Boulder’s pattern of abusive police conduct,” said Dan Williams of Hutchinson Black and Cook, LLC, co-counsel for Sammie Lawrence.
Co-counsel for Mr. Lawrence, Darren O’Connor of Darren O’Connor LLC said: “It is
unfortunate that Boulder hired Officer Lolotai with a known history of violent use of force in his prior law enforcement role. This pattern of behavior, sadly and unsurprisingly, continued in his role of Boulder police officer, resulting in many assaults against community members, all of which the city of Boulder has defended. The city or District Attorney has also often prosecuted Lolotai’s victims. Neither the city of Boulder, nor the Boulder District Attorney appears to have investigated Officer Lolotai’s outrageous use of force numbers, and we hope that the city and District Attorney will more diligently analyze use of force numbers for all officers as a result of this settlement agreement. No officer should be allowed to do what Officer Lolotai did to Mr. Lawrence without serious scrutiny from city staff, elected officials, and the District Attorney of Boulder.”
Also serving as co-counsel for Mr. Lawrence is Colleen M. Koch of Hutchinson Black and