(COLORADO SPRINGS) — No charges will be filed against an officer and a paramedic who responded to a mental health crisis call in November 2022 that resulted in the death of 63-year-old Kevin Dizmang.
Lawyers representing Dizmang’s family have released body camera footage and a coroner’s report, and allege that responders strangled Dizmang in the midst of a mental health crisis.
In an email, Dizmang’s family lawyers said the coroner’s report ruled his death a homicide resulting from being physically restrained by the Colorado Springs Crisis Response Team (CRT) during the Nov. 15, 2022 incident.
The coroner’s report states that officers placed Dizmang into a “bear hug” style hold during an encounter that was possibly related to suicidal behavior as he walked into traffic.
The Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) originally responded just before 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 to the 200 block of Mount View Lane, just south of the intersection of North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway, after receiving a 911 report of a person experiencing a ‘mental health episode.’
The responding CRT comprised of a police officer, a community health paramedic with the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and a Diversus Health Clinician. The body camera footage shows Dizmang wandering on and off the roadway when the CRT arrived, and the CSPD officer gives repeated commands for him to put his hands behind his back, after saying “you’re not under arrest.”
Dizmang struggles against the officer, and eventually is forced to the ground after the CRT manages to get him out of the road. This is where the law team for Dizmang’s family says the hold he was placed in ultimately killed him.
While the coroner’s report does determine the manner of death as homicide due to physical restraint, other contributing factors include: “acute methamphetamine intoxication, COPD and asthma, cardiomegaly, diaphragmatic paralysis, and obesity.”
“Mr. Dizmang was in the midst of a mental health crisis begging for his life,” said national civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, who is representing Dizmang’s family. “And the very people who were sent to help him strangled him to death instead.”
CSPD and CSFD have issued a joint response, which you can read in its entirety below:
Anytime a community member dies, we are saddened at the loss of life. We take these events seriously and, in this case, had the Deadly Force Investigation Team, led by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, investigate this event. They then sent the case to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review and determination of the reasonableness of the force that was used. This exceeds the requirement by Colorado law, but we believe it is best for transparency and honest review for our community.
All of our Community Response Team members are highly trained professionals, coming from diverse backgrounds with the goal of assisting our community members who are in crisis and need immediate intervention. The team is comprised of a Colorado Springs Police Department Officer, a Colorado Springs Fire Department Paramedic, and a Diversus Health Clinician. Unfortunately, even with all of the training and expertise on this CRT team, we can’t control every factor involved in an interaction with a community member such as the actions, underlying medical conditions and intoxication of the involved person prior to our involvement.
We respect the ongoing process by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and would refer you to them for further comment.Joint statement by the Colorado Springs Police Department and Colorado Springs Fire Department
On Wednesday, Feb. 15, a spokesperson with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s (DA) Office confirmed to FOX21 News that the DA’s Office would not be pressing charges against the involved CSPD officer and CSFD paramedic.