2016 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 13 - Courts and Court Procedure
Damages and Limitations on Actions
Article 21 - Damages
Part 1 - General Provisions
§ 13-21-128. Civil liability for destruction or unlawful seizure of recordings by a law enforcement officer - definitions

CO Rev Stat ยง 13-21-128 (2016) What's This?

(1) (a) Notwithstanding any other remedies, a person has a right of recovery against a peace officer's employing law enforcement agency if a person attempts to or lawfully records an incident involving a peace officer and:

(I) A peace officer unlawfully destroys or damages the recording or recording device;

(II) A peace officer seizes the recording or recording device without permission, without lawful order of the court, or without other lawful grounds to seize the device;

(III) A peace officer intentionally interferes with the person's lawful attempt to record an incident involving a peace officer;

(IV) A peace officer retaliates against a person for recording or attempting to record an incident involving a peace officer; or

(V) A peace officer refuses to return the person's recording device that contains a recording of a peace officer-involved incident within a reasonable time period and without legal justification.

(b) If a peace officer engages in any of the conduct described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), the aggrieved property owner may submit an affidavit to the peace officer's employing law enforcement agency setting forth the facts of the incident, the damage done to the owner's property, and a verifiable estimate of the replacement cost for any damaged or destroyed device. If a recording was damaged or destroyed, the owner may claim five hundred dollars as the value of the recording itself. Upon receipt of this affidavit, the law enforcement agency shall have thirty days to either pay the aggrieved property owner the amount requested in the affidavit or issue a denial of the request in writing.

(c) If a denial of claim is issued by the law enforcement agency pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subsection (1), and the aggrieved property owner disagrees with the denial, the property owner may bring a civil action against the peace officer's employing law enforcement agency for actual damages, including the replacement value of the device, the amount of five hundred dollars for any damaged or destroyed recording, and any costs and fees associated with the filing of the civil action. The court may order punitive damages up to fifteen thousand dollars and attorney fees to the property owner upon a finding that the denial by the law enforcement agency to reimburse the person pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subsection (1) was made in bad faith. If the court finds that an action brought by a person is frivolous and without merit, the court may award the law enforcement agency its reasonable costs and attorney fees.

(2) An action brought pursuant to this section does not preclude the person from seeking that criminal charges be filed against a peace officer for tampering with physical evidence in violation of section 18-8-610, C.R.S., or any other crime.

(3) For purposes of this section, "retaliation" means a threat, act of harassment, as defined in section 18-9-111, C.R.S., or act of harm or injury upon any person or property, which action is directed to or committed upon a person recording the peace officer-involved incident, as retaliation or retribution against such witness or victim.

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