Lawsuit Alleges Las Animas County Deputies Tasered Man 35 Times

DENVER — A man is suing the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office after an arrest in November where he said he was assaulted and shocked 35 times.

Kenneth Espinoza sued Deputy Henry Trujillo and other members of the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office.

On November 29, 2022, Nate Espinoza said what was supposed to be a normal day in Trinidad with his father Kenneth Espinoza escalated very quickly.

“We were taking his truck to the store. We weren’t there to bother anyone,” Nate Espinoza said.

Nate Espinoza said he was pulled over by Deputy Mikhail Noel for an alleged traffic violation. Within minutes, body camera footage showed things escalated when Deputy Trujillo approached Kenneth Espinoza’s truck, which was parked behind his son’s vehicle on the side of the road.

The video shows that the two deputies drew their weapons.

“Time has stood still,” said Nate Espinoza. “[I was] feel everything leaving my body.

Shortly after, Kenneth Espinoza was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser when video showed the father being tasered in the face by Deputy Trujillo.

Lawsuit Alleges Las Animas County Deputies Tasered Man 35 Times

“He was Tasered about 35 times, including once in the face. One of the probes went into his mouth,” Kenneth Espinoza’s attorney Kevin Mehr said.

Mehr said Kenneth Espinoza was shocked by the two deputies.

“That’s what Mikhail Noel does repeatedly when he has this taser in his hand and he stabs it over and over again,” Mehr said.

After the alleged assault, the prosecution says Deputy Trujillo returned to the patrol vehicle to get Kenneth Espinoza’s information.

Kenneth Espinoza did not obey after being asked to share some information, and body camera footage showed Deputy Trujillo grabbing him, still handcuffed, and slamming him to the ground. He was patted down and then returned to the cruiser.

The lawsuit alleges that police reports written by the officers showed false or understated statements from that day forward and detail Deputy Trujillo’s criminal history.

“I don’t believe he’s legally eligible to be post-certified and has been essentially impersonating a peace officer for 21 years,” Mehr said.

Deputy Trujillo was convicted of harassment in 1998 and served several restraining orders.

The Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office told Denver7 that the district attorney did not press charges against Kenneth Espinoza and that his case was dismissed.

Sheriff Derek Navarette said he was using an outside agency to review the actions of the deputies involved. They are both on administrative leave. Sheriff Navarette would not comment on the ongoing lawsuit.

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