This image, captured from a dash-cam video of Denison Police Officer Rogelio Valdez arresting Denison resident David Edward Nielsen, shows Valdez pursuing Nielsen shortly before the arrest.
This image, captured from a dash-cam video of Denison Police Officer Rogelio Valdez arresting Denison resident David Edward Nielsen, shows Valdez pursuing Nielsen shortly before the arrest.

May 17, 2019

A Denison police officer who was dispatched to check on a potentially suicidal man slammed the man to the ground and pressed his foot against his head after the man failed to stop his vehicle for the officer, according to a federal lawsuit the man filed against the officer and city.

David Edward Nielsen Jr., 47, of Denison, suffered a broken elbow and abrasions to his face and arms in the Sept. 18 arrest, the lawsuit alleges. He is suing the city of Denison and Officer Rogelio Valdez for an unspecified amount of money.

Valdez pursued Nielsen starting about 6:10 p.m. that day with his patrol vehicle’s emergency lights on, the lawsuit says.

The beginning of a dash-camera recording from Valdez’s vehicle — which the Carroll Times Herald obtained from Nielsen’s attorney — shows Nielsen maneuver his car around Valdez’s vehicle in a parking lot on the north side of Denison and go south on North 10th Street.

Nielsen claims he either could not see Valdez’s emergency lights because of the setting sun or did not “comprehend” that Valdez wanted him to stop.

Valdez turned on his siren for a few seconds, the lawsuit says, but Nielsen might not have heard it because his hearing is impaired and he listens to loud music, the lawsuit says.

“I’m following that vehicle,” Valdez says in the recording of the pursuit. “He is refusing to stop.”

Nielsen drove for about a half mile at about the speed limit to an apartment complex where he lives and parked in his parking spot.

“Valdez was amped up and angry at Nielsen for failing to stop,” the lawsuit alleges. “Valdez falsely told (emergency medical technicians) who arrived to treat Nielsen that Nielsen ‘ran from them for a couple of yards and was taken down.’ ”

The dash-cam video shows Valdez was talking calmly on his radio before he got out of his vehicle, trotted to Nielsen’s vehicle, assisted Nielsen from the vehicle and apparently slammed him to the ground when Nielsen resisted putting his hands behind his back.

The lawsuit alleges: “Before Nielsen could exit his vehicle on his own, and without giving any verbal command, defendant Valdez opened Nielsen’s car door and pulled him out of the car with force throwing Nielsen to the ground.”

Nielsen was charged with eluding and interference with official acts, according to court records. Last week he pleaded guilty to the interference charge. The eluding charge was dismissed, and Nielsen was fined $397.50.

An attorney for the city did not respond to a request to comment for this article. The city has not yet responded to the allegations in federal court.

Valdez has worked for the police department for two years.