• May 20th, 2024
  • Monday, 10:48:08 PM

Deputies Fired After Tasing Unarmed Bystander Multiple Times in the Body and Face


Attorneys for Kenneth Espinoza, the Colorado father and grandfather who was viciously tased multiple times in the body and face by officers with the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office (LACSO), reacted this week to news that the LACSO has fired Deputy Mikhail Noel and Lt. Henry Trujillo, the two officers who assaulted Espinoza, following an independent third-party investigation by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office as well as an internal recommendation from LACSO Undersheriff Rey Santistevan.


Outlining the unnecessary, unjustified and excessive force used by both Noel and Trujillo, the reports also reveal a series of failures ranging from both Noel and Trujillo making false claims about the incident to LACSO to the pair tasing Espinoza repeatedly even though he wasn’t resisting and had broken no laws. In fact, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office report goes so far as to recommend a criminal investigation into Noel and Trujillo and their actions in the November 2022 incident.


“This is the most clear cut case of police negligence, brutality and abuse of power that I’ve ever seen,” says Keven Mehr, the attorney representing Espinoza. “The videos show it, the third-party investigation confirms it and Undersheriff Santistevan admits it.”


“Let’s be clear, firing Noel and Trujillo is an important step in this journey towards justice. But it’s far from the last one.”


In addition to Noel and Trujillo’s actions, the reports revealed a deeply troubling situation within the LACSO. In fact, according to Undersheriff Santistevan’s report, he signed off on the use of force report from Espinoza’s assault and tasing without reviewing it or the officers’ body worn camera videos. Furthermore, Undersheriff Santistevan admits that neither he nor anyone at the LACSO ever contacted the Las Animas County District Attorney’s Office even though they knew that the reports they’d submitted were factually inaccurate.


This is the most clear cut case of police negligence, brutality and abuse of power that I’ve ever seen.”
Keven Mehr, Attorney


The Pueblo County also directly contradicts claims made by Sheriff Derek Navarette that Espinoza was only tased once and that “data obtained from the tasers” confirmed that Noel never fired his taser. In fact, the Pueblo County report makes it clear that the taser logs, the same data Navarette claims to exonerate Noel, actually show that Noel discharged his taser at least twice during the incident.


“They didn’t just brutalize Kenneth Espinoza and mislead the District Attorney’s Office,” says Mehr. “They misled the press and the people of Las Animas County. This isn’t an isolated incident and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”


Click here to view copies of the reports. Video of the incident can be viewed here and here