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Colo. paramedic named in mental health crisis, wrongful death lawsuit

Colorado Springs Paramedic Nicholas Fisher tackled Dizmang and placed him in a headlock

By Glenn Wallace
The Gazette

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs police officer and a Fire Department paramedic are facing a federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleging their actions constituted an excessive use of force that resulted in the death of a 62-year-old man.

The man, Kevin Dizmang, died in a hospital on Nov. 15 after an altercation with members of the Colorado Springs Police Department crisis response team after his family called 911 for a mental health crisis, fearing for his safety.

[PREVIOUSLY: Bodycam video: Death of Colo. man stopped by mental health team ruled homicide]

“You cannot come to a scene to help someone and end up killing them,” national civil rights attorney Harry Daniels said on the steps of Colorado Springs City Hall on Tuesday, at a news conference held to announce the filing of the lawsuit.

In body-camera footage of the incident, an officer identified in the lawsuit as Sean Reed is seen approaching a distraught Dizmang. When Dizmang refuses to sit still, Reed tries to handcuff Dizmang, who resists and becomes more agitated.

Eventually, paramedic Nicholas Fisher tackles Dizmang and places him in a headlock, purportedly at the suggestion of Reed. Shortly thereafter, Dizmang appears to fall unconscious and does not regain consciousness even after the headlock and he is sat upright. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was later declared dead.

Dizmang’s daughter Kenda James spoke briefly at the news conference.

“It makes us feel like we should have never made a call for assistance,” she said.

The coroner’s report, also released by the attorneys, concluded that Dizmang’s death was a homicide as a result of physical force. However, the coroner’s report also concludes that Dizmang’s death was also a result of “acute methamphetamine intoxication, COPD and asthma, cardiomegaly, diaphragmatic paralysis and obesity.”

A spokesperson for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office told The Gazette last year that the use-of-force incident was investigated by the District Attorney’s Office, and that the use of force was found to be justified.

Attorneys Daniels, Bakari Sellers and Kevin Mehr disagree. On behalf of the daughter, they are seeking compensation and punitive damages.

The lawsuit specifically calls out the use of a chokehold, which is specifically forbidden for law enforcement officers to use, let alone a nonpeace officer like Fischer.

“It’s time for a change,” Daniels said. “It’s time for the Department of Justice to come in and do a sweeping evaluation of the Colorado Springs Police Department to see exactly what the hell is going on.”

Daniels and Sellers also represent Dalvin Gadson, a Black homeless veteran who filed a civil lawsuit against Colorado Springs police alleging excessive use of force against him during a traffic stop in November 2022.

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