Denver police form a line on Lincoln Street before launching tear gas canisters and pepper balls into the crowd of protesters on May 30, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press

Denver police are investigating an allegation that an officer sexually assaulted a protester with a baton while taking him into custody in July.

After police tackled Michael Jacobs at a park near the state Capitol on July 29, an officer plunged a baton into his backside several times, causing him to suffer hemorrhages, his attorney Michael Greife said Tuesday. Another officer held him by his hair and punched him in the head, giving him a concussion, he said.

“It was the most traumatizing experience I’ve been through in all 23 years of my life,” Jacobs told KDVR-TV, which first reported on the investigation.

Denver police spokesperson Jay Casillas confirmed the department is conducting an internal investigation of the allegation and declined further comment because it is ongoing.

Jacobs has been charged with attempting to disarm a police officer during a protest over an operation to remove homeless people from the park.

According to a police document describing why Jacobs was arrested, he matched the description of a man who was seen attempting to tear down a fence at the park and entering the park. When officers moved to arrest him, the document says that Jacobs began to violently resist and tried to take an officer’s pepper ball gun. Officers were able to forcibly pull Jacobs to the ground and arrest him, according to the document.

Griefe denied the allegations and thinks they were made up to justify the police’s treatment of Jacobs, noting he has not been charged with destroying property or trespassing as the document alleged. While the police document said the suspect being sought was inside the park, Griefe noted that a video taken by a bystander shows Jacobs outside the park when he is tackled by police.

A lightened version of the nighttime video show an officer moving a baton up and down as Jacobs is on the ground.

Griefe and his colleagues plan to sue police after fighting the criminal case against him.

“They don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of proving this before a jury,” said Birk Baumgartner, the firm’s managing attorney.

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