GRAPHIC: Colorado Cops Break MMA Fighter’s Neck on Camera. Now he’s Suing
Update: In 2017, Donovan Duran settled the lawsuit for an amount he's unable to speak about, just one year after he messaged us personally to thank us for writing an article about his story.
While his attorneys didn't speak about an amount, they say their client was "satisfied."
Two Colorado cops won’t be charged with a crime even after newly-released video shows the moments when they broke a handcuffed man’s neck, and left him a paraplegic.
You can see the whole incident happen above.
The body cam video shows a La Junta Police officer dropping the man on his head in the first two seconds as they pulled him from their police cruiser.
Those seconds ended the man’s promising MMA career.
Now Donovan Duran needs constant medical attention.
He’s unable to walk, paralyzed from the nipples on his chest down to his toes.
And a grand jury says the Colorado cops who did the deed, can’t be charged with a crime.
“It was a hard fall. I remember my legs being two separate directions – like noodles dropping. I was like a sack of potatoes.”
That’s the last thing Donovan Duran remembers December 7, 2015 when police broke his neck, which he told the website Catholic Online.
Duran’s parents called the cops on him asking for help because he’d been binge drinking and acting funny.
Police had made contact with Duran three out of four days in a row during that time.
The video shows La Junta Police apparently got agitated by Duran on their way down to the jail after they’d arrested him for unknown reasons.
Released footage begins with police telling the inebriated and half-naked Duran to get out of the police cruiser.
“Don’t touch me,” replied Duran.
The officers then immediately yanked him from the backseat and pull him forward where he lands on his head, breaking his 6th and 7th vertebrae.
That damaged his spinal cord.
As he’s being thrown down Duran can be heard saying, “you can’t do that to me.”
The two Colorado officers moved Duran’s arms awkwardly under his legs until they were (likely painfully) rotated in their joints from in front of his body to behind his back.
But even after he landed on his head, unable to move and already paralyzed from the fall, police began giving him orders.
“Put your hands behind your back!”
The video shows the already paralyzed Duran is dragged by police by his handcuffed arms into a wheel chair, then carelessly plopped down, then wheeled into hospital where the officers immediately moved his limp body onto a bed.
After he was admitted, it took hospital personnel several hours to realize Duran was even paralyzed.
Even though he kept telling them he couldn’t move his legs, it turns out they thought Duran was feigning being paralyzed because he’d been intoxicated when he was arrested.
“He picked me up real fast. He got me all the way up to my feet, and I remember him being behind me. He had me by my waist and he just let go. I was dead weight,” Duran said.
Duran’s father, Eddie Duran, admitted he called police on his son, but never imagined they’d paralyze him for being belligerent.
“I think they just got so frustrated with dealing with my son over the span of the weekend,” said Duran’s father, “that one of them just went off and speared him from behind.”
Duran’s attorney, Durant Davids said the only way to get justice for their client is to file a lawsuit in federal court, which they filed Monday.
“The Colorado state criminal laws in question before the grand jury are entirely different than the federal laws providing for civil lawsuits against police officers for use of excessive force that causes injuries,” Davids said.
Because even though the grand jury found Sergeant Vince Fraker responsible for fracturing Duran’s neck they said Sgt. Faker’s negligence “cannot be the basis of any criminal charges.”
The lawsuit states the La Junta Police Department failed to implement sufficient training policies for officers dealing with mental health problems, such as using de-escalation techniques instead of force.
“Franker’s use of excessive force as described above herein was outrageous and shocking to the conscience, in violation of Duran’s substantive due process rights,” the lawsuit reads.
Although his Facebook page still lists himself as a full-time MMA fighter, Duran likely won’t be fighting any time soon.
At least in the octagon.
His fighting will be confined to a federal court where a judge and jury will decide how much, if any, justice Donovan Duran will get compensated for the casual act of police brutality that robbed him of his mobility.
So far the scales aren’t tilting in his favor, but Duran says he’s turned it over to his faith in god.
“They ruined my whole life,” Duran expressed. “I was very, very surprised with the outcome. I really believe in my heart those guys should pay for what they did. But it didn’t happen that way. So I’ll just leave it in God’s hands.”
In the not so distant past, several states have tried to ban MMA (mixed martial arts) fights from taking place in their states.
Now that it’s become a mainstream sport, one budding fighters’s biggest blow came from the state itself.
Warning: extremely graphic footage may be disturbing to some.