Colorado Medic and Police Officer Sued Over Death of Suicidal Man

The estate of a man who died while in police custody after suffering from a mental health emergency, has filed suit against a police officer and a fire department medic who restrained him. Kevin Dizmang died on November 15, 2022 after a failed intervention by the Colorado Springs Police Department Crisis Response Unit.

According to the complaint, Dizmang suffered from PTSD and schizophrenia. His ex-wife called 911 reporting she believed he was suicidal and walking in traffic. A Crisis Response Team, CRT3, consisting of a police officer, a fire department medic, and a case worker, was dispatched.

Quoting from the complaint

  • CRT3 consisted of Colorado Springs Police Department Officer Sean Reed, Colorado Springs Fire Department Paramedic Nick Fisher, and licensed clinician Andrea Alban.
  • Upon Officer Reed’s approach to Kevin, Kevin immediately said “HELP me,” then walked, in an obviously confused manner, further into the road.
  • Kevin repeatedly said “please” to Officer Reed as he ambled in a clearly confused and panicked state, walking in circles in the westbound lane of traffic.
  • Officer Reed then told Kevin “sit down or put your hands behind your back,” indicating to Kevin that he intended to handcuff and arrest Kevin. Officer Reed then proceeded to grab Kevin’s left arm as he told him to put his hands behind his back.
  • Kevin responded with “I will” as Officer Reed continued to grab his arms and without giving him an opportunity to calm down and comply.
  • As Officer Reed attempted to place Kevin under arrest and in handcuffs, Kevin stepped away multiple times, walking a couple of steps, then bending over and putting his hands on his knees, breathing heavily, returning to the same physical posture he had when Officer Reed arrived to Kevin’s location.
  • As Officer Reed’s tone escalated for Kevin to put his hands behind his back, Kevin walked further away from the road and into a small line of trees, repeatedly stating “no!” and “please don’t” all while breathing heavily and in an obviously stressed and panicked state.
  • As Kevin stood in the thin tree line, approximately 20 feet from the road, Paramedic Fisher suddenly and violently tackled Kevin, driving him face down into the ground, and landing Kevin on his right side.
  • Once on the ground, Fisher put Kevin into a chokehold while Reed took Kevin’s hands and placed them in handcuffs behind his back.
  • Fisher maintained this chokehold, by wrapping his arms around Kevin’s neck, severely impacting Kevin’s ability to breathe, for approximately 30 seconds, at which point Kevin quit moving at all.
  • Fisher then rolled Kevin face down onto the ground, and placed his hands on the back of Kevin’s neck and driving his body weight downward, pushing Kevin’s neck and face into the ground. At this point, Kevin remained completely motionless.
  • Fisher stayed in this position, with his body weight on Kevin’s neck and back for approximately forty-five (45) seconds, and Kevin remained completely unresponsive.
  • After approximately forty-five (45) seconds on laying on top of Kevin while he was unresponsive, Fisher and Reed rolled Kevin into a seated position.
  • At this point Kevin still had a faint pulse, but was clearly struggling to breathe and was totally unresponsive to any questions or commands.
  • Officer Reed called for AMR to respond, as Kevin was clearly unresponsive and unconscious, yet he and Fisher left him in handcuffs.
  • Despite being unresponsive and unconscious, Kevin remained handcuffed behind his back for nearly seven (7) minutes before he was loaded onto a stretcher and moved into an ambulance.
  • Once loaded into the ambulance, medical staff began attempting life-saving resuscitation measures, however Kevin never regained consciousness.
  • Kevin was transported to the emergency room at Penrose hospital, where emergency room staff continued to attempt life-saving measures, however they were unsuccessful and Kevin was pronounced dead at 6:16 PM by Dr. Michael Loew.
  • Subsequently, an autopsy was conducted by the El Paso County Coroner’s office. Kevin’s Death was ruled to be a homicide, specifically that Kevin died as a result of cardio- pulmonary arrest as a result of “physical restraint”.
  • As if engaging in an unlawful chokehold against a man clearly in crisis was not enough, Paramedic Fisher had the bravado to brag and laugh about his take down of Kevin with another police officer and a charge nurse at the Penrose Hospital ER, just outside the hospital room Kevin was in, while ER staff was conducting chest compressions in an attempt to save Kevin’s life.

The suit names Fisher and Reed individually. Neither the city nor either department is named in the suit. It alleges wrongful death, along with various state and federal civil rights violations. According to CBS News, neither Fisher or Reed was charged criminally. Fisher resigned in June, 2023.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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