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Attorneys release videos from death of man experiencing mental health episode

Kevin Dizmang, 63, stopped breathing while being restrained by members of Community Response Team
Kevin Dizmang cuffs.jpeg
Posted at 7:29 PM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-16 21:29:34-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Civil rights attorneys have shared body camera video of an incident where a man died while being detained during a mental health episode in Colorado Springs in mid-November.

Kevin Dizmang, 63, stopped breathing as an officer and paramedic working as part of the city's Community Response Team (CRT) pulled him out of traffic and restrained him. Attempts to resuscitate Dizmang were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at Penrose Hospital.

A spokesman for the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office told News 5 that the Deadly Force Investigation Team reviewed the incident and that the actions of the police officer and paramedic were reasonable. No criminal charges will be filed.

The first video clip is roughly 36 minutes long and comes from the camera worn by CRT Officer Sean Reed.

The recording shows Officer Reed approaching Dizmang as he steps into the street on Mount View Drive. Reed orders Dizmang to sit down or put his hands behind his back.

Approximately 45 seconds into the recording, Reed grabs Dizmang's left arm and attempts to put him in handcuffs. Dizmang pulled away.

Dizmang shook himself out of Reed's grasp twice more before being tackled by CRT paramedic Nicholas Fischer.

While the men struggle to subdue Dizmang who is lying face down and seems to yell, "I'm down."

Reed gets a cuff around one of Dizmang's wrists and within seconds, Dizmang appears to lose consciousness.

Voices are heard in the recording saying, "Kevin, Kevin talk, say something."

Once he is fully cuffed, Reed instructs Fischer to help him roll Dizmang onto his side.

Jesse Sharp, a manager at the mobile home park where Dizmang lived, is heard in the video saying, "Kev, breathe for me Papa, Kev."

Sharp later explained to Reed that he and Justin Miller saw Dizmang walking into traffic on Mount View Lane and tried to help him.

Reed radioed for an ambulance. As the group waited he asked Fischer, "is he okay?"

Fischer's answer is difficult to hear because the police radio interrupts his reply.

"He's not aspirating," he appears to say.

Attorney Harry Daniels told News 5 that Dizmang's daughter hired him and Bakari Sellers to represent their interests in the case. He believes the Community Response Team should help people in mental distress and not restrain them.

"You can see him, Mr. Dizmang's neck is in the armpits of the officer while he's applying pressure. Not the officer but this paramedic who is not trained by any capacity to engage in any such behavior," Daniels said.

The coroner's report classified Dizmang's death as a homicide.

"It is my opinion that Kevin Dizmang, a 63-year-old white male, died as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of physical restraint, acute methamphetamine intoxication, COPD and asthma, cardio mealy, diaphragmatic paralysis, and obesity," the report states.

"The contribution of physical restraint to the cause of death results in the determination of a manner of homicide."

The Colorado Springs Police and Fire Departments released a joint statement Wednesday afternoon expressing sadness at the loss of life.

"We take these events seriously and, in this case, had the Deadly Force Investigation Team, led by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, investigate this event," the statement reads.

"They then sent the case to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review and determination of the reasonableness of the force that was used. This exceeds the requirement by Colorado law, but we believe it is best for transparency and honest review for our community."

Daniels released the second video Thursday afternoon. This recording is 5:39 and comes from another officer's body-worn camera recorded inside Penrose hospital.

The video is blurred. However, Fischer can be heard describing the tackle to others.

"My first time taking somebody down with this job," he said. "And I was like, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Another clinician told me, she's like, go help him restrain him. I go to pull drugs out, and she's like, no, go help him, and I was like, oop high school football," he said the other men laugh.

"Good form homie," a voice can be heard saying to Fischer.

Daniels urged the community not to let this video dehumanize Dizmang.

"This is a family, okay," he said. "This is a father, a grandfather who was loved dearly by his family, by his grandchildren, and despite the fact that he came across some demons and had his issues, that does not negate the value of his life."

News 5 requested formal interviews with representatives from the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office. All three declined.

However, a fire department spokesman indicated they would be more at liberty to speak once the DA formally announces the declination of charges.

Daniels said he may request the Department of Justice review the Dizmang case.

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