This lawsuit charges that three Colorado Springs police officers, with their employer’s blessing, engaged in racial profiling and biased policing when they targeted Corey Barnes, a Black resident of the Springs.  They detained him without cause, handcuffed him without justification, and searched him illegally.

The ACLU’s complaint recounts that on May 15, 2018, numerous officers arrived at a multi-building apartment complex, where they searched for a juvenile suspect. Police communications identified that suspect as a Black male, fifteen years old, with a long afro haircut, wearing a zippered hoodie, who had ducked into a specific apartment in a specific building of the complex.

Despite having heard that description of the suspect, the lawsuit alleges, Defendant officers unjustifiably detained, handcuffed and searched Mr. Barnes. They carried out this unjustified intrusion even though Mr. Barnes was 29 years old, not fifteen; he had very short hair, not a long afro; he was wearing a T-shirt, not a zippered hoodie; and he was outside, in the parking lot, not inside the building.

The lawsuit asserts that the violations of Mr. Barnes’ constitutional rights are part of a longstanding pattern of racially biased policing that has plagued the Black community in Colorado Springs for years.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable detentions, handcuffing, and searches, as well as the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits racial discrimination. Defendants are the City of Colorado Springs and officers Carlotta Rivera, Katelyn Burke, and William Watson.

To resolve the lawsuit, Colordo Springs agreed to a monetary settlement and renewed training for all officers on the legal standards that govern the police practice known as “stop and frisk.”

ACLU news releases:


Date filed

May 15, 2020

Case number

2018-14, 20-cv-01384