A TikTok video that recently went viral shows a police officer chasing and attempting to tase a protester, before being dressed down by a superior. The incident took place in 2016, and Reason documented the ensuing lawsuit, which led to the protester receiving a $175,000 settlement from the city.
In July 2016, Chris Dickey, a police officer in Commerce City, Colorado, approached two men who were protesting outside the Adams County Human Services building. They wore neon yellow shirts and held placards, bearing the phrases Blues Live Murder and Fuck Bad Cops. Dickey told the men they were on private property and needed to leave. The protesters disagreed, saying the building was public property, and refused to provide identification on request. Dickey moved forward to arrest them, but tripped; one of the protesters, Joshua Condiotti-Wade, panicked and ran. Dickey chased after him, pulling his taser and activating it. When Condiotti-Wade did not fall, another officer joined the chase and activated his taser as well.
The chase lasted around 40 seconds. It ended when Dickey's commander, Mark Morgan, arrived on the scene and questioned what was happening. Dickey protests that Condiotti-Wade is under arrest for disorderly conduct and trespassing, but at every step, Morgan counters: "It's not disorderly conduct," "It's public property," and "[It's] freedom of speech. Relax," he says.
The entire scene is available to watch from Dickey's body camera; the TikTok video picks up right before the chase begins. As of this writing, it has over 16 million views and 2.4 million likes.
The video claims that each officer's taser missed, but in fact one barb from Dickey's taser did get stuck in Condiotti-Wade's arm, necessitating a hospital visit to get it removed.
According to Condiotti-Wade's lawsuit, Dickey received five complaints for excessive force between 2011 and 2014, either during arrests or otherwise without legal justification. Even after being told otherwise by his commander, the suit alleges, Dickey still told people within the Adams County Human Services building that Condiotti-Wade "was causing a disturbance" that "amounted to disorderly conduct."
Without body cameras, it's entirely possible the lawsuit would have gone nowhere, merely chalked up to Condiotti-Wade's word against Dickey's. In fact, the Commerce City police officers had only started wearing body cams a month before the incident.