Denver, CO — Philip White was travelling back home from a conference on technical advancements to assist the blind on May 22, 2012, when he missed his bus in Denver. White, who was 77-years-old at the time, and blind, called the police after the bus station security guard told him he had to leave the station. This call would prove to be detrimental.
White was told that the bus was full and he couldn’t get on board. He only wanted to discuss options with staffers at the terminal, but he eventually was told by a security guard that he was “trespassing” and he’d have to leave the terminal, according to court documents.
“Philip White missed his bus to the mountains, when he asked Greyhound staff for help in catching the next bus home, he was told by a security guard he was trespassing and had to leave the Greyhound Bus Depot,” said White’s attorney Mari Newman. “This is a Master’s Degree holder and long-time educator who was set upon with excessive force as police violated his civil rights, all over a bus ticket.”
After being told to leave, White declined and then called the police. Officer Kyllion Chafin of the notoriously brutal Denver police department showed up.
Chafin did not care that White was the person who had placed the call to police and instead of helping the man in need, he escalated the situation to violence.
Chafin quickly attacked White. White, having no idea if his aggressors were actually who they said they were, asked to feel Chafin’s badge to confirm he was an officer.
“He told me ‘You aren’t touching me,’” said White.
According to KDVR,
The cop grabbed his arms, forcing them behind him, then cuffed him so tightly he suffered nerve damage in his fingers — or eyes, for him. He was then slammed into the ticket counter leaving his head bleeding.
When Sgt. Bob Wykoff arrived, instead of trying to defuse the situation and offer the blind man help, without reading White his Miranda Rights, he began to video tape a bus station interrogation without White’s consent.
White was then brought to the downtown jail where he sat for 8 hours before police realized that they had no reason to keep him. He was then released, bloodied and bruised, without charges.
“I thought they would have killed me if they thought they could get away with it,” said White. “I always trusted cops, but now my confidence in them is shaken. I felt so bad I wanted to leave the USA.”
On Friday, the Denver taxpayers were held liable for Chafin’s violence. A jury awarded White $100,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.
Chaffin faced zero discipline and his department defended his brutal actions against this now 80-year-old blind man.
“We respect the court and we respect the jury’s decision,” said Sonny Jackson, a police spokesman. “We reviewed the case. We didn’t find any violations of policy. We are always looking for ways to improve.”