Snowmass Village man hospitalized after police Tasering
August 14, 2013
A Snowmass Village man was hospitalized early Sunday morning after an Aspen police officer zapped him with a Taser after he allegedly fled from authorities who were trying to place him under arrest.
Lukas Robert Berckman, 26, suffered facial injuries after he fell to the ground as a result of being shot with a stun gun by Aspen Police Officer Adam Loudon, according to a police report.
Police called Aspen Ambulance to take Berckman, whose injuries included lacerations and abrasions to his face, to Aspen Valley Hospital.
Berckman later told police that he deserved what he got, based on the police report, which was written by Loudon.
Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said Tuesday that he is unaware of a stun-gun victim at the hands of the APD being hospitalized. The matter was presented to the city attorney, who "was fine with our actions and policy," Linn said.
Even so, the Tasering incident will be taken to a newly formed review board, comprising APD staff members and an officer from an outside agency, later this week, Linn said.
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"This is not a disciplinary process," Linn said.
Rather, the board will review the Police Department's procedures and policies and to see if "what we do fits with reality," Linn said.
"Frankly, using force on an individual is something we want to take very seriously and don't want to think of as a normal course of business," Linn said.
Linn said that while "mere flight is not the triggering point at which you can use a Taser and other types of force," other factors come into play, as well.
"Specifically, an officer is justified in using reasonable force when they're effecting an arrest or preventing the escape, and the rest of that test is based on the severity of the threat to officers and others," he said
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a county judge advised Berckman, a construction worker, that he faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His bond for those charges was set at $10,000, in addition to a $1,000 bond stemming from his alleged failure to appear in court for a previous, unrelated charge.
Police initially contacted Berckman after reporting disturbance at the Regal nightclub, at 220 S. Galena St., where a barback allegedly had been punched.
Outside the bar's entrance, police allegedly spotted Berckman, who told authorities that he'd been hit by a bartender who told him to stop dancing with a girl, the police report says. However, Loudon's report says the officer did not notice Berckman having "any redness or swelling consistent with being punched in the face."
Loudon then ran Berckman's name and learned that there was a warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in Garfield County Court for an April arrest for driving under restraint.
When told of the warrant, Berckman allegedly said, "See ya" and bolted south on Galena Street, Loudon wrote.
"I ran after Berckman and yelled 'Stop police!'" Loudon wrote. "I drew my Taser, pointed it onto Berckman's back and deployed the Taser in probe mode. I was approximately twelve feet behind Berckman when the Taser was deployed. Berckman fell to the ground, face first."
Later, Loudon took photographs of Berckman's injuries. Additionally, an assisting patrol officer's car video captured most of the incident, Loudon wrote.
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