Police Tasered a 38-year-old man with mental health problems at least four times after he was placed in handcuffs on Valentine’s Day.
Shane French, 38, faces four counts of felony assault, five counts of resisting arrest and two counts for a crime of violence in connection to an incident that occurred at his North Texas Street home on Feb. 14. French allegedly stabbed Cortez Police Department officer Casey Eubanks once on his left side.
Citing Colorado’s Make My Day law, his public defense team claimed the charges should be dismissed at a motion’s hearing on Friday, Oct. 17. They argued that French simply tried to defend both he and his family after three police officers “rushed” inside the home uninvited, assaulted his at-risk blind father and caused property damage to the door frame all while responding to a “possible disturbance call.”
“Physical force was used by all three officers against everyone in the house that night,” argued public defender Amy R. Smith in closing statements. “Personally, I’m appalled how the officers responded.”
During last week’s seven-hour proceeding, public defenders elicited facts and disputed details from a total of five witnesses, including Eubanks and the defendant’s mother, Patty French.
“I vaguely remember that night,” Eubanks responded when asked if he recognized a photo of the residence.
Under direct examination by Smith for about an hour, Eubanks did recall that he neither asked for permission to enter the home, nor asked the defendant’s parents how he could assist. Instead, he testified that he wrestled the defendant to the ground in a matter of seconds upon entry into the home.
“We hit chest to chest,” Eubanks told Smith. “I grabbed him in a bear hug, lifted him off his feet and took him to the ground.”
Another officer testified that’s when he used a stun gun to electrocute the defendant twice as a third officer placed the defendant in handcuffs. The Taser-wielding officer testified the defendant was electrocuted four additional times outside the residence as officers searched the suspect prior to placing him into a patrol car.
Armed with a lapel-mounted camera, Eubanks captured a 10-minute recording of the suspect’s apprehension. The video, played in open court, revealed muffled moans of agony from French and an unknown officer repeatedly threatening to “kick” the suspect again.
“I should have (expletive) shot that (expletive),” Eubanks said as the video ended.
A 911 call from Patty French, also played in open court, revealed that she told dispatchers on the night in question that her son was “out of control.” She testified Friday she wanted police to help calm her son — diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and bi-polar disorder — like they had previously done when responding to similar emergency calls to her home.
“We wanted a mental health hold,” she said on direct examination. “We didn’t want an altercation with officers.”
District Attorney Will Furse said the charges shouldn’t be dismissed under the Make My Day statute, citing the defendant’s mother called 911 and then opened the door so officers could enter. He said Eubanks was there to simply offer assistance.
“The defense did not prove that the police entered unlawfully,” Furse argued.
District Court Judge Todd Plewe agreed with prosecutors, and ruled the case would not be dismissed under the Make My Day law. He added the argument could be presented at trial for jurors to consider.
Court records reveal Eubanks suffered a single small stab wound to his left side. Police confiscated a six-inch serrated knife and a three-and-quarter-inch paring knife from the scene.
According to Furse, the defendant previously rejected a plea deal that would have included a 12-year prison sentence.
Other motions will be heard in the case later this week.