(LAS ANIMAS COUNTY, Colo.) — Body camera footage released on Monday, April 24, showed two deputies with the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office tasing a man in the face during his arrest. The man is now preparing to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office.
This lawsuit stems from a traffic stop that escalated to an arrest involving Kenneth Espinoza in November 2022. Body camera footage of the incident shows the whole altercation, yet there is still a huge discrepancy between what the Las Animas Sheriff’s Office is saying versus what the attorney of the man involved is saying.
Espinoza’s attorney alleges that he was tased 35 times, however, the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday, that Espinoza was only tased once.
The full video of the body camera footage from both deputies as well as the statement from the Sheriff’s Office can be found at the bottom of this article.
On the day of the incident, Kenneth Espinoza and his son were driving separate cars, taking one of them to a Ford dealership. Espinoza’s son got pulled over by cops for a traffic citation, to which Espinoza then also pulled over behind them, to wait for his son.
“Deputy Trujillo showed up and immediately got pretty aggressive with Ken… Asking, why are you here? But not really caring to learn what his answer was… He was like, get out of here, several times,” said Espinoza’s attorney, Kevin Mehr.
Lieutenant Henry Trujillo, and Deputy Mikhail Noel, were the two officers involved in this situation. After some back and forth, Espinoza pulls away to leave, but then Deputy Noel changed his mind and starts yelling at him to stay.
The two deputies proceeded to handcuff Espinoza.
While he was handcuffed, the body cam footage showed Trujillo firing a taser at Espinoza’s face. Espinoza’s mouth can be seen bloody after the altercation. Throughout the entirety of the incident, Deputy Noel can be seen jabbing Espinoza with a stun gun.
“He jabs him with the end of the taser. I count in the car about 15 times… Then again, about seven times during this interaction,” said Espinoza’s attorney, who is counting each of these jabs as a taser deployment, to which he counts at least 35 throughout the altercation.
Espinoza now filing a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, on the basis that deputies tased him 35 times, according to his attorney.
The Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office, disagrees, “Mr. Espinoza was tased one time. This was confirmed by the data obtained from the tasers of Lt. Trujillo and Deputy Noel,” the statement read.
“When you get electrocuted, even by the probes of the drive stun, it burns your skin…
and I know that happened because Ken has burn marks all over his upper body,” said Mehr.
The photo Mehr sent to FOX21 News as proof, does not show burn marks “all over his upper body,” but it does show four red marks which Mehr says were from the drive stun taser.
Whether it was one tase or dozens, Mehr says there was no warranted reason for a taser to be used.
“You’re not supposed to aim at someone’s face, and the circumstances in which it’s permissible or reasonable to take someone, who’s handcuffed behind their back, are so tiny. And none of them would apply here,” said Mehr.
The District Attorney didn’t charge Espinoza in this case. The Sheriff’s Office is now reviewing the actions of the two deputies, meanwhile, Espinoza will be filing the lawsuit in the coming weeks.