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Denver City Council approves $100K settlement after alleged 2020 racial profiling incident

Keilon Hill.png
Posted at 12:33 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-19 14:33:49-04

DENVER — The City and County of Denver will pay a man $100,000 after city council approved a settlement stemming from a lawsuit alleging Denver police officers racially profiled the man in 2020.

Keilon Hill sued the city after an April 27, 2020, interaction with the Denver officers.

The then 27-year-old said he called police after he was involved in a minor fender-bender on Interstate 25. He said he waved the other driver down, called 911, and paramedics arrived shortly after.

Police body camera shows while paramedics checked on Hill, a DPD officer went to the other driver to find out what happened.

“After I was in the lane, he came in between me and the car that was in the lane…he was very aggressive,” the driver told officers in the video.

The video then captured the officer speaking to a colleague about the incident.

“He tries to thread the (expletive) needle between two lanes and he (expletive) side swipes and he’s being an (expletive),” the officer said. “I haven’t talked to him yet because (expletive) fire was all around him but I haven’t got his ID yet, but he looks like a turd.”

Man sues City of Denver after alleged 2020 racial profiling incident

Eventually, the officer asked Hill to walk back to Hill’s car. At that time, Hill saw another officer searching his car, according to the video.

Hill walked toward the officer and asked why he searched the car. The officer said the car smelled like marijuana inside. The video shows Hill and the officer stepping toward each other. Several officers then grab Hill and put handcuffs on him. Once Hill was in custody, one officer was heard in the video saying Hill got in his face.

Hill spent 24 hours in jail and was charged with interference with police activity. The charge was later dismissed.

Hill said this incident was a result of racial profiling and filed a lawsuit against the city.

None of the officers involved were disciplined after the Denver District Attorney declined to file charges.

"A complaint was received and reviewed by the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Denver Police Department. A review of the evidence in the case, including the body-worn camera video did not support the allegations of inappropriate force. However, the Department recognized the language used by Officer Ludwig was inappropriate and he was counseled and reminded to maintain his professionalism during the course of his duties. This case was reviewed by the Denver District Attorney and was declined for further charges. The Office of the Independent Monitor reviewed the case and approved the declination of further investigation," a Denver Department of Safety statement said.

The decline letter can be viewed here.

The firm that handled the case, Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC, released the following statement following Monday’s decision:

“Keilon Hill was subjected to blatantly unconstitutional and racially biased policing at the hands of Denver Police officers. Nobody deserves to have their vehicle unlawfully searched, to be arrested and criminally charged without cause, or to be called racially charged names during a police encounter. This settlement agreement serves as a tacit recognition by the City of Denver of its officers’ misconduct. Although Mr. Hill looks forward to moving on from this experience, he will never forget his treatment at the hands of Denver police, and he encourages others who are victims of police abuse to stand up for their rights,” the statement said.