Jury awards Colorado veteran $760,000 in Kremmling excessive force lawsuit

DENVER – A disabled Vietnam veteran has been awarded $760,000 in a police brutality lawsuit against the town of Kremmling.

The plaintiff, 69-year old Richard Mark Smith, told Denver7 that officers tackled him in his kitchen.

“I was still recovering from a major stroke,” he said.

Smith’s attorney, Darold Killmer, of Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP, said officers tased his client three times.

“They stormed into his house without a warrant, after nightfall,” he said. “They had been staging to be very aggressive when all they were supposed to do was check on the welfare of his girlfriend.”

Bad Blood

Smith told Denver7 that he’s “had an ongoing bad-relationship with the town for a number of years.”

“I have rental properties there,” he said, “and they’ve dealt with me very harshly.”

He said the town doesn’t have any code enforcement officers, “so police enforce the code.”

Smith said police came to his door on March 5, 2013.

“I didn’t trust them,” he said.  “That’s when a virtual SWAT team of officers entered and took me down.”

Smith said the first officer told those in back that Smith was a dangerous person, because he was a Vietnam veteran with weapons.

“I’m a sportsman,” he said.  “I have a shotgun, so do many other people around here.”

Combat disability

Killmer said Smith is 100 percent disabled from combat, because he suffers from PTSD.

Smith said he served with the 26th Marines in the De-Militarized Zone (Khe Sanh) in the late 60s and that the police department’s aggressive entry into his house brought back memories of his tour of duty.

“We didn’t treat our prisoners of war as bad as they (police) treated me,” he said.

Killmer said jurors apparently agreed.

“They held the police chief and a sergeant accountable for pre-approving this aggressive program,” he said, “and they awarded punitive damages.”

He added, “I’m delighted that the jury saw justice in this case.  Jurors are no longer letting police get away with this brutality.”

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