The Buena Vista Police Department officer sued earlier this month for allegedly violating a man’s constitutional rights was also sued by a public defender while working for the Salida Police Department in 2013.
Nicholas Lazzaro filed the most recent lawsuit July 3 in Denver at the U.S. District Court for Colorado. He is represented by Raymond Bryant, a civil rights attorney in Denver.
That lawsuit claims Buena Vista police officer Shane Garcia violated the constitutional rights against unlawful detention and arrest, excessive force and retaliation.
The case “concerns a police officer’s retaliatory abuse of police authority when he approached an innocent man who was docilely smoking in front of a gas station, asked the man to talk, and reacted with violence when the man declined,” the 10-page lawsuit asserts.
The incident occurred July 4, 2017 outside a gas station where Lazzaro and his female companion had stopped.
The lawsuit states that the officer had received a call about a possible domestic disturbance near the station.
The 2013 suit was filed against officer Shane Garcia by public defender Daniel Zettler ended with a $43,000 settlement paid to Zettler by the city of Salida.
Zettler argued that Garcia violated his constitutional rights to free speech in 2011.
Garcia arrested him for obstruction of justice after the attorney advised a suspect Garcia had detained to remember their constitutional rights while walking past.
Garcia’s attorney argued at the time that Zettler “interjected himself” into Garcia’s investigation of the suspect for assault, The Mountain Mail reported.
“The officer stated he asked Zettler for identification and told him he was being detained for investigation of obstruction of an investigation,” the attorney argued.
“Garcia alleged Zettler ‘refused to spell his name’ for the officer and walked away. Garcia acknowledged he grabbed the life vest Zettler was wearing, but denied Zettler’s allegation that the officer ‘violently spun him around,’” according to the story, published in January 2013.
“Zettler contended he walked away when Garcia did not answer when Zettler asked him if he was under arrest. Zettler then was arrested and held in custody for 7 hours. Salida Municipal Court later dismissed the charge of obstructing a police officer.
“Garcia contended Zettler “put his hands in (Garcia’s) face” and told the officer, “Go ahead and arrest me,’” the story reported.
On July 3, another suit was brought against Garcia in the U.S. District Court for Colorado.
The lawsuit filed by Nicholas Lazzaro claims Garcia violated his constitutional rights against unlawful detention and arrest in a 2017 incident outside a gas station.
After speaking with Lazzaro’s female companion and reviewing the gas station’s surveillance video, Garcia determined that no crime had occurred, the lawsuit says. However, Garcia charged Lazzaro with resisting arrest.
“The prosecutor dismissed the charges once the video (from Garcia’s body camera and from the station) revealed that the officer prematurely and provocatively used force against a non-threatening person,” the lawsuit asserts.