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Disabled woman files suit against police after bodycam footage shows officers tasing her while she was restrained. Police say 'not so fast.'


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Image source: KDVR-TV video screenshot

Police arrested 34-year-old Lauren Gotthelf in 2017, and footage of her interaction with officers has been released to the public.

In the bodycam footage, sheriff's deputies can be seen apparently deploying a taser gun on Gotthelf as she is restrained in a chair.

Gotthelf filed a lawsuit last week against Boulder County Sheriff's deputies in connection with the 2017 incident.

Why was she arrested to begin with?

Officers initially arrested Gotthelf in Boulder, Colorado, for allowing her service dog off its leash in public and smoking at a mall.

She initially refused to sign a ticket in connection with the two apparent violations, which prompted officers to arrest her and transport her to Boulder County Jail for processing.

What are the details of the video?

In the video, Gotthelf can be heard arguing with officers in her jail cell. One of those officers, Sgt. Chris Reiss, can be heard telling the woman that she will be placed on suicide watch. It is unclear what prompted Reiss to notify Gotthelf that she would be placed on suicide watch.

In the video, another officer can be heard saying, "You just said, 'I'll just kill myself; I'll just hang myself.'" Gotthelf fires back, insisting she said no such thing.

"You guys are nuts," she adds.

After the exchange, officers transport her from her cell to a chair and place a spit hood over her face. Officers restrain Gotthelf in the chair, and she can be seen resisting the restraints, apparently prompting Reiss to deploy the taser on her.

"You piece of f***ing s***, you tased me for no reason!" Gotthelf shouts.

What is the sheriff's office saying?

The office says it has "factual disagreements" with Gotthelf's allegations.

On Friday, the department issued a statement on the pending litigation.

"We have factual disagreements with the allegations within the lawsuit filed against the Boulder County Sheriff's Office regarding the use of force against Ms. Lauren Gotthelf, who was booked into the Boulder County Jail on November 25, 2017," a portion of the statement read.

Gotthelf, the department said, was "disruptive," and as a result, was placed in a holding cell after her transport to the jail.

"Staff tried to de‐escalate her behavior, but Ms. Gotthelf was argumentative and unrelenting," the statement continued. "She refused to comply with repeated commands from two separate deputies."

The statement added that Gotthelf was uncooperative and refused to enter a cell.

"She planted her feet and braced her legs to prevent movement," the statement continued. "She was wearing socks and deputies had to slide her across the linoleum floor into the cell because of her resistance and refusal to move."

Gotthelf also reportedly shouted "negative, vulgar, and racist comments to deputies" for at least 45 minutes, according to the statement.

"Due to her resistive behavior the restraints on the chair could not be secured," the statement continued. "She was given several verbal commands to sit in the chair and stop resisting but continued to buck her body and be physically resistant."

When she did not comply, the sheriff's office said, a "sergeant touch-tased her once with the 'drive-stun' setting in the left thigh for pain compliance."

"To secure her head, a deputy applied a hypoglossal hold," the statement continued. "Even after these techniques, Ms. Gotthelf continued to be uncooperative, but deputies were finally able to properly apply all of the restraints."

The office insisted that medical staff monitored Gotthelf, and that no one in the department used excessive force against her.

"The facts of this situation demonstrate, and the video supports, that the officers' use of force was reasonable and in good faith," the statement added.

What else do we know about the lawsuit?

Gotthelf's lawsuit — which accuses the sheriff's office of using excessive force and disability discrimination — alleges that officers kept her in the restraint chair for four hours after tasing her.

Mari Newman, Gotthelf's attorney, said the treatment was unacceptable.

"That's not going to help somebody who's suicidal. That's just sadistic," Newman said.

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