(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The United States Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling against the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) in a use of force lawsuit by a man who was tazed at Memorial Hospital in 2019.

C.J. Andersen sued the City of Colorado Springs, Teller County, and several law enforcement officers after a taser was used on him during a confrontation in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Andersen was in the hospital with his fiancé and their 19-month-old daughter after the young girl was hit by her mother’s car while the mother was backing out of the driveway on April 17, 2019.

After several law enforcement officers began asking for Andersen’s fiancé’s phone, saying it contained evidence of child abuse, Andersen refused. The civil complaint stated that Andersen believed the officers did not have probable cause to search the phone.

As Andersen stood by his daughter’s crib, an officer grabbed his wrist while Officer Vito DelCore tazed him twice.

C.J. Andersen was arrested and tazed by officers in Colorado Springs. (Credit: Provided to attorney David Lane by Colorado Springs Police Department)

Earlier in 2023, a Colorado Federal District judge ruled Officer DelCore used excessive force against Andersen. However, on Friday, Aug. 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, finding instead that the officer’s use of force was reasonable, because Andersen resisted arrest and posed a threat to officer safety.

The District court initially criticized Officer DelCore for escalating the situation and creating the need for a use of force, by “interrupting ‘civil conversation[s]’ with threats of violence and arrest,” according to court documents. In addition, the district court argued that officers did not give Andersen time to comply before grabbing him.

However, in the reversal, Officer DelCore argued that he was entitled to Qualified Immunity, and the appeals court agreed.

“We conclude… that Officer DelCore used reasonable force under the circumstances when he grabbed Mr. Andersen’s arm as part of the officers’ efforts to secure [Andersen’s fiancé’s] cell phone,” documents state.

The documents go on to point out what may have ensued had the taser not been deployed.

“We need not ponder this hypothetical situation long to realize the risks the officers could have faced: The body-worn camera footage in the record reflects that as soon as [officers] took the phone, Mr. Andersen tried to lunge at him, screaming ‘Give me the cell phone’… Had Officer DelCore and his colleagues released him at that moment, we think it clear that [the officers] would have faced a certain and immediate threat from Mr. Andersen as he tried to recover the cell phone.”

The documents conclude that Andersen’s Fourth Amendment rights were not in fact violated, and instruct the district court to enter new judgment in favor of Officer Delcore.