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By David Accomazzo
Rocky Mountain News

DENVER - Thomas Charles Armstrong took the stand Monday to defend himself against accusations he resisted arrest, charging that Denver police assaulted him during a scuffle in 2005.
Armstrong said he made no aggressive action toward the officers who stopped him Nov. 11, 2005, near East 11th Avenue and Xenia Street for "suspicious behavior."
Prosecutors Bill Winter and Bonnie Benedetti said that on that date Denver police officer Daniel Swanson stopped Armstrong around 1 a.m.
Swanson testified Monday that he had seen Armstrong running in the middle of the street "with his hands in the air screaming."
"It struck me as a sort of panic," Swanson testified. "I'm sensing he needs help."
Armstrong slowed as he approached the car, Swanson said, and as the two talked, it became apparent to Swanson that Armstrong was intoxicated. Swanson said he decided he needed to take Armstrong to detox.
Armstrong then became combative and had to be restrained, Swanson said. Officer Jarrod Foust arrived at the scene to help four minutes after Swanson called for backup, according to news reports. When cross-examined, Swanson said he had not mentioned detox in the police report.
Armstrong's testimony Monday told a different story: He was walking, not running, to a nearby 7-Eleven to buy cigarettes after fighting with his girlfriend, he said. He complied with all of Swanson's orders and said the officers started beating him after they had handcuffed him.
"He just punched me so hard in the stomach that I knew something wasn't right," Armstrong said, emotion welling in his voice. "After he struck me, I was in fear for my life. They were standing me up and taking turns."
He admitted he tried to get away.
"I was trying to stop them from beating me," he said.
Armstrong's heart stopped beating on the scene and officers had to resuscitate him before he was transported to the hospital.
Armstrong said he had consumed three or four beers that night and had smoked marijuana, for which he has a license for medical use.

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