Attorneys for the family of a man killed in the custody of the Colorado Springs Police Department during a reported mental health crisis are demanding accountability.
On Nov. 15, 2022, CSPD dispatched a community response team to a residence on Mount View Lane in response to a report of a man having a mental health episode. The team was composed of Officer Sean Reed, Colorado Springs Fire Department paramedic Nicholas Fischer, and a Diversus Health clinician.
There, they encountered 63-year-old Kevin Dizmang standing in the road.
According to a Nov. 16 statement from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the incident, “a struggle ensued” when the officer attempted to lead Dizmang out of the road, and Dizmang “was placed in handcuffs and became unresponsive.”
The sheriff’s office said Dizmang was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital.
The county coroner’s report ruled Dizmang’s death a homicide due to physical restraint (strangulation) contributing to cardiopulmonary arrest. It also noted methamphetamine intoxication at the time.
Body-worn camera video shared by civil rights attorneys Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers, who represent Dizmang’s family, shows Officer Reed giving repeated orders to Dizmang to get out of the road and put his hands behind his back.
“You’re not under arrest,” Reed can be heard saying, even as he restrains Dizmang’s hands behind his back to handcuff him.
As Reed struggles to resist, he is tackled to the ground, apparently by Fischer. Voices can be heard saying, “we’re here to help,” and “you’re going to be OK,” as they restrain Dizmang.
“Mr. Dizmang was in the midst of a mental health crisis begging for his life … And the very people who were sent to help him strangled him to death instead,” Daniels said. “They were telling him they were helping him at the same time they were killing him.”
Attorneys pointed out that crisis response teams are meant to prevent deadly escalation of police contacts with mentally unstable or intoxicated individuals.
“The coroner ruled Mr. Dizmang’s death a homicide and the video makes it clear who did it. Now it’s time to hold them accountable,” Sellers said.