The city of Arvada in June agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a police excessive force lawsuit, records show.
The city cut a check to settle Travis Cook’s claim that an Arvada police officer beat him bloody in an unprovoked attack in 2018, according to a settlement agreement obtained by The Denver Post on Tuesday through a public records request.
The city took pains to keep secret the deal, which was first reported by the Arvada Press. As part of the settlement, Cook agreed not to talk about it to anyone aside from his family, attorneys and accountant, the settlement agreement shows. His attorney was also prohibited from speaking about the case, and agreed to say only “we have no comment” in response to any inquiries.
City spokesman Ben Irwin did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday. Arvada police Detective David Snelling said an attorney in the lawsuit had previously released confidential documents, which was part of the reason the city sought secrecy on the final settlement.
The deal also prohibited Cook or his attorneys from directing anyone to the settlement agreement, which as a public record is technically open to inspection — if anyone knows to ask to see it.
Cook filed the federal lawsuit in January 2020 after he said Arvada police Officer Brandon Valdez beat him during an arrest in February 2018. Police responded to a report that Cook was arguing with his girlfriend, and he was arrested for allegedly assaulting her. He was later acquitted at trial.
The lawsuit claimed that Valdez was “rude, hostile and extremely aggressive” before he began punching Cook. The officer claimed the use of force was necessary because Cook elbowed him in the face and was resisting arrest. The officers were not wearing body cameras during the incident.
The settlement is not an admission of liability on the city’s part. Valdez remains an officer with Arvada and he was cleared of wrongdoing through an internal affairs investigation, Snelling said, adding that the police department maintains the incident was handled appropriately.
“A settlement is not reflective of our officer’s performance,” he said.
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