A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court accuses Denver Sheriff's deputies of teasing an observant Jew who was wearing a yarmulke after the man refused to leave the Wellington Webb building where he was "attempting to resolve past due parking tickets."
In an amended complaint filed Monday, Eric Karr said that on Jan. 20, 2010, he was asking questions and trying to resolve the issue at the parking violations bureau. "At no time was Mr. Karr loud, belligerent or rude," the suit said.
Named in the lawsuit are two employees of HSS, Inc., a company that provides security services, and five sheriff's deputies.
"I never comment on active cases," Carol Thomson, a lawyer for the company, said in an e-mail.
Denver City Attorney Douglas Friednash said he could not comment because of the lawsuit.
"Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation except to say that the individual deputies deny any wrongdoing and our office intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit on their behalf," he said in a written statement.
According to the suit, Joe Lonigro, an employee of HSS Inc., yelled at Karr, ordering him to leave the building.
When he wouldn't leave, Lonigro and another HSS employee threatened to call police, the suit said.
Sheriff's deputies arrived and "Karr did not understand what he had done wrong and laid down on the floor in protest.
"While the Sheriff's deputies, including (Brady) Lovinger, were attempting to stand Mr. Karr upright, his skull cap came off his head, at which point" one of the deputies began to tease him about his head covering.
Karr was escorted from the building and arrested by a Denver police officer. He was charged with interference, trespass and disturbing the peace, according to the lawsuit.
"While in the detention center, certain deputy sheriffs teased Mr. Karr and further defamed and teased him regarding his skull cap in front of other arrestees. In addition, upon asking for Kosher food, Mr. Karr was denied that and was ridiculed for asking for special food."
A Denver County Court judge later dismissed the charges, according to county records.
Karr said he has suffered monetary damages as well as embarrassment and emotional distress. The defendants were "motivated by malice towards him based on his religion and appearance," the suit said.
He is asking for a damages in excess of $75,000.