Female sergeant hurt in training sues Lakewood police, city

A Lakewood police sergeant has sued the Police Department and the city over what she described as career-ending injuries she suffered during training.

Karin Shadow, a 12-year-veteran of the department, argued in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that officers in charge of training twice used excessive force on her right knee.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names Police Chief Mike Zaro, three other officers, the Police Department, and the city.

In response, Zaro said in a statement: “We are disappointed to see that Sgt. Shadow feels she was targeted for any reason, and we certainly understand her frustration in dealing with a career-ending injury.

“We are confident, however, that she was treated equitably and fairly by both the training staff and the Police Department.”

Shadow’s training at the department in April 2014 included acting out a scenario in which she had to deal with two suspects who became confrontational.

One trainer acting as a suspect grabbed Shadow’s right leg and twisted it out from underneath her “until her leg gave out with a ‘pop,’ ” the suit said. That tore a ligament, cartilage in her knee and her calf muscle, and required reconstructive surgery.

About a year after the first injury, Shadow underwent training on how to frisk and arrest suspects.

The trainer had her lay face down, with her legs crossed at the ankles. Then, according to the suit, the trainer knelt down and put weight on the back of her calf, which crushed her previously injured knee.

The new injury was severe enough that Shadow hasn’t been able to work as a police officer, the suit states.

“It’s supposed to be controlled,” she told King 5 News about the training. “And everyone is supposed to come out just fine in the end. ... I feel like they are throwing me away.”

Her attorney, Joan Mell, said Friday that the Police Department plans to fire Shadow if she can’t return from leave to full duty by June 15.

Zaro declined to verify any details of Shadow’s employment situation.

In other allegations, the suit states that, “Sgt. Shadow did not consent to nor assume the risk that Lakewood’s defensive tactics trainers would disable her using excessive force during training.”

“... Chief Zaro knew about the bravado of his trainers, particularly around women like Sgt. Shadow who were pursuing upward promotion to lieutenant, but did not stop the trainers from dangerous physical contact with Sgt. Shadow.”

Shadow also alleges the department violated state public records law by getting rid of videos of the training, which Shadow learned after she requested them.

She believes the trainers were more aggressive with her than with her male coworkers.

“Sgt. Shadow regularly experienced machoism and bravado by her male peers that kept her on the outside, rather than a valued part of the team,” the suit said.

Zaro said in his statement: “We believe that many of the allegations that her attorney has raised in the complaint are distorted and inaccurate; and we expect that when a true accounting of events is brought out in the legal process, we will be vindicated.”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell