DENVER — A Littleton woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a former state trooper, alleging he threw her to the ground and broke her wrist during an alleged fender-bender investigation.
Wesley Dakan was recently fired — in a separate incident — for allegedly pointing a gun at a driver while off duty in his personal car.
The incident started in November 2018 when Josiah Shaw called police to a parking lot at 7345 S. Pierce Street in unincorporated Jefferson County and said someone with a trailer hitch had backed into his girlfriend's car and left a golf ball-sized dent in the bumper. The dent apparently popped out the following day with the change in weather, he said.
The lawsuit alleges that when Dakan arrived to investigate, he lied about the damage, saying he saw black paint on the trailer hitch, though he had written up that the vehicle involved was white.
He cited Michelle Principe, of Littleton, for backing up unsafely.
She was furious and cursed at the trooper.
In dash camera video, she's heard saying, "I didn't hit anybody."
Principe's attorney, Birk Baumgartner, said she was upset because there was no damage or evidence of bent fenders.
"The trooper kept her for a very long time, 30 minutes or so.," he said. "She wanted to go to bed. She had to go to work the next morning, so she became frustrated and disrespected him. ... I think he disrespected her too."
Baumgartner said at one point, Principe walked over to the trooper's car, knocked on his window and said she wasn't going to wait anymore and turned around to go back to her car.
"Trooper Dakan saw her come up from her car and walk back to her car," Baumgartner said. "He jumped out of his car, aggressively, grabbed her from behind and threw her on the ground, breaking her wrist."
It was captured on the dash cam.
Baumgartner said there was no reason for Dakan's actions.
"There's no law enforcement reason to do that," he said. "(Dakan) was simply angry that she disrespected him, and in response, he attacked her."
Photos included in the lawsuit show bruises on Principe's right arm.
According to the lawsuit, Principe "was forced to undergo intensive surgery that has required significant amounts of continuous physical therapy, perpetual pain, and scarring."
Denver7 learned earlier this week that Dakan was recently fired for his alleged involvement in a separate menacing incident with another driver at W. 10th and Sheridan.
A Denver Police Department Crime Alert indicated that a driver, later identified as Dakan, apparently pointed a gun at another driver, while off duty in April.
Dakan was charged with two counts of felony menacing in that case.
Baumgartner said he sees a pattern.
"The attorney general's office has known about this for a long time," he said. "What happened with the two felonies that Trooper Dakan has right now could have been avoided if the attorney general's office had not been hiding the misconduct of this bad officer."
The AG's office said it is not commenting about the lawsuit. A spokesman said, "this is still an active case."
In his legal reply to the lawsuit, Dakan's attorney, Dmitry Vilner, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Baumgartner said Principe's lawsuit alleges wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.
"The wrongful arrest stems from the fact that Michelle did not break any laws. It's not illegal to tap on someone's car, unless you do damage to the car," he said. "It is not illegal to tell an officer that you're running out of patience with them. She did not resist arrest. She did not obstruct justice."
He said all the charges against his client were dismissed.
Baumgartner said the malicious prosecution stems from the fact that officer Dakan falsified his police report.
"Among other total lies that you can see very clearly in this video, he stated that Michelle ran away from him and that's why he had to jump out of his car and grab her. She doesn't run," he said. "She's simply walking calmly back to her car after she's insulted him."
Baumgartner said this is America, where disrespecting a police officer doesn't mean that they can grab a person, beat them up and make false charges against them.
"That's what happens in Russia, not America," he said.