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Melinda Calvano, Aspen Police Officer Fired Over Improper Taser Use, Suing City For $460,000

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Melinda Calvano, a woman fired from the Aspen Police Department over five years ago, is suing the city of Aspen and its manager for more than $460,000. According to the Aspen Times, her suit alleges the city subjected her to sexual harassment, gender bias, and a hostile work environment.

Calvano was fired in 2006 after tasering a homeless woman behind the Thrift Shop of Aspen. The woman was suspected of stealing a sweater. Calvano maintains the 63-year-old woman threatened her, writing in her incident report, "I grabbed her left arm and she raised [a] walking stick above her head in a threatening manner." When the woman sat down and refused to get back up, Calvano tasered her for five seconds.

At the time, the Aspen Police Department did not have a written policy governing when tasers could be used. A year after Calvano's firing, a policy was instated prohibiting their use against pregnant women, children, the elderly, restrained people and in circumstances where a fall may cause death 'unless exigent circumstances are present.'

As noted at the Denver Employment law blog, Calvano's suit alleges many of her male coworkers at the Aspen Police Department made questionable decisions and acted counter to the department's values. Unlike Calvano, however, they faced no disciplinary measures; therefore, she was subject to employment discrimination.

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