Black stepfather sues Denver police after sergeant pointed gun at three girls

A Black man whose three children were held at gunpoint by a Denver police sergeant sued the police department Monday, alleging that officers violated his and his family’s Constitutional rights and used excessive force.

The May 7 encounter began when a woman inside the Safeway at 14th Avenue and Krameria Street called 911 and reported that she’d heard that a Black man in a hooded sweatshirt was sitting in a silver Cadillac in the parking lot with a gun.

Naphtali Israel, who drives a silver Cadillac, had been shopping at the Safeway with his three stepdaughters — ages 2, 7, and 14. When the youngest became fussy during the shopping trip, he brought the girls out to the car, gave them snacks, and told them to sit tight with the doors open for air while he went back inside to finish shopping.

Police responded to the 911 call and quickly zeroed in on Israel’s Cadillac, with the girls inside.  One officer pulled his gun out, pointed it at the car and shouted orders at the children, according to surveillance video of the incident and the lawsuit, which alleges the children were terrified.

Israel, alerted to the situation by a concerned shopper as he was checking out, rushed out of the store. Officers then stopped, handcuffed and searched him for a gun.

He was released after a few minutes.

The lawsuit alleges the officers violated Israel’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches and seizures, that officers used too much force and that the family’s race motivated the officers’ unreasonable response.

A Denver police spokesman declined to comment.

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