Colo. Supreme Court Throws Out Confession Obtained By Force
Court: Walsenburg Police Broke Bones In Man's Face
Last Updated: 919 days ago
A divided Colorado Supreme Court ruled that confessions and cocaine found on a suspect after police broke bones in the man's face, pushed him to the ground, sprayed him with pepper spray and beat him with a baton cannot be used at trial. A 4-3 opinion handed down by the state Supreme Court Monday found that police's actions were "wholly disproportionate" to the circumstances surrounding attempts to question Clovis Vigil about a potential drug deal in Walsenburg, Colo., in July 2009. Small bags of cocaine found in Vigil's pocket by the arresting officers were also thrown out as evidence.Vigil received six hours of medical treatment as a result of his injuries and was released into the custody of the same officers who beat him earlier. He confessed a second time to them, according to court records.[T]he trial court found that Vigil posed no threat to the officers and that the amount of force the officers used against him was not only wholly disproportionate to the circumstances involved, but rather coerced his statement, Justice Alex Martinez wrote. And Vigils second confession can be suppressed as fruit of the poisoned tree.Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and justices Michael Bender and Gregory Hobbs concurred. Justice Nathan Coats strongly disagreed with the majority's ruling, saying Vigil was legally obligated to cooperate with police during an investigatory stop. Two other justices disagreed on different grounds.