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The Boulder police officer whose arrest of a black man filming an interaction between homeless people and officers is the subject of an independent review has now been named in an excessive force lawsuit by a woman who said the officer shoved her while she was filming an arrest in 2018.

Officer Waylon Lolotai

Officer Waylon Lolotai is named in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday by Kelly Clark, 41, who also names the city of Boulder and the Boulder Police Department as defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that on July 15, 2018, Clark was on University Hill near 1155 13th St. when she saw Lolotai and three other officers arresting a man with what Clark thought was a concerning amount of force.

Clark said she and some other witnesses began videorecording the arrest on their phones, with Clark moving forward to get a better view of the arrest. Clark said Lolotai then yelled at her to get back and shoved her, causing her to become airborne and slam into the ground.

The lawsuit alleges that, “to cover up his misconduct, Officer Lolotai and the Boulder Police Department detained Ms. Clark and instituted false criminal charges against her.” The lawsuit notes obstruction case against Clark was later dropped.

Kelly Clark

“This act of extreme aggression and use of excessive force on citizens who are lawfully attempting to hold Boulder police officers accountable for their conduct follows a disturbing pattern by Officer Lolotai and other members of Boulder law enforcement of using force and false charges against citizens who are merely seeking to observe and document use of force by the Boulder Police Department,” the lawsuit reads. “In these instances, Officer Lolotai and other Boulder police officers will claim baseless fear for their safety to try to justify their use of excessive force, and Boulder officers charge their victims with crimes stemming solely from the police interaction, such as obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest, or failure to obey a lawful order.”

The lawsuit links to footage of an officer shoving a woman down to the ground.

Boulder has not commented on the Clark lawsuit at this time.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of Lolotai being in the news for his April 5 arrest of Sammie Lawrence, a black man who was using a walking aid and filming an officer interacting with a group of homeless people.

While Boulder police said the arrest was reviewed and did not warrant any internal investigation, Boulder City Council asked for an independent review of the case. Lawrence is scheduled for a pretrial conference in his case on June 17.

Denver’s Fox31 also published a story on May 1 reporting Lolotai had been under investigation for excessive force at his former job with the Denver County Sheriff’s Office.

The Clark lawsuit alleges Boulder police “have condoned, ratified and encouraged such extreme aggression and excessive use of force by its police officers” and “sought to hire defendant Lolotai for those very characteristics.”

“They knew that he was under investigation for inappropriate use of force against an inmate at the Denver Detention Center where Officer Lolotai was employed as a deputy with the Denver sheriff Department,” the lawsuit reads.

Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh said Lolotai first applied to be a police officer with Boulder in 2015. At that time, he was told that he could not be considered for employment with the Boulder Police Department due to a Denver Sheriff’s Department active internal affairs investigation.

Aulabaugh said in 2016, the department conducted an extensive background check on Lolotai, which included a review of the unredacted internal affairs investigation file. Background investigators also viewed a letter written by the Denver Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs Bureau that stated the claims of assault, taunting and harassment were unsubstantiated.

“The city of Boulder does not hire police officers who have any sustained use of force allegations,” Aulabaugh said in a statement. “Any assertion that the Boulder Police Department directs officers to resign before they can be found guilty of a use of force allegation in order to be hired by the city of Boulder is absurd and completely inaccurate.”

In a letter posted online in reaction to the Fox31 story, Lolotai’s wife, Melissa, said Lolotai moved to the Boulder Police Department because he grew up in the area.

“Waylon grew up in Boulder County and had always dreamed of returning to work in his home area,” Melissa Lolotai wrote. “While your story makes it sound like Waylon left DSD in an attempt to avoid discipline, the facts actually demonstrate that Waylon’s decision to go to BPD was essentially a promotion. Anyone with career aspirations and goals would have taken an opportunity which would advance his or her career.”

Lolotai is on regular duty.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for excessive force, unconstitutional seizure, malicious prosecution and a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. No hearing date has been set at this time for the case, according to court records.

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