DPD Chief Recommends Officer Be Fired In Controversial Force Incident

Written by Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned that Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman is now recommending the termination of Officer Devin Sparks, who was caught on videotape throwing Michael DeHerrera to the ground in 2009 and manhandling DeHerrera.

The firing recommendation emerged from a disciplinary hearing held Monday by Whitman. After the case initially emerged, Whitman recommended brief suspensions for Sparks and Cpl. Randy Murr, who was also involved in the incident.

But a furor ensued when videotape of the April 4, 2009 incident emerged and the case was reopened, paving the way for Monday’s decision. David Bruno, Sparks’ attorney, did not immediately respond to CBS4 inquiries on the firing recommendation.

The videotape — captured by one of Denver’s HALO surveillance cameras — showed Michael DeHerrera outside a LoDo nightclub, talking on a cell phone and Sparks then tackling the 23-year-old. Sparks then repeatedly hit DeHerrera.

michael deherrera DPD Chief Recommends Officer Be Fired In Controversial Force Incident

Michael DeHerrera (credit: Denver Police Department)

Last year, Denver City Council agreed to pay DeHerrera $17,500 to settle a federal lawsuit.

Contacted by CBS4, Nick Rogers, a board member of Denver’s Police Protective Association, was irate over Monday’s termination decision. Rogers maintained that since Whitman’s initial decision, “Not one iota of evidence changed and nothing new emerged.”

Denver’s manager of safety now has 15 days to make a final decision on the employment fate of Sparks.

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  • corine marquez

    Don’t we wish they could all be fired, The Denver Police Dept is wrong for what happen to that young man, there suppose to protect there people and they use their badges to take advantage of the streets. it happens in all states. these cops hide so much its sick and the nobody takes time to look at there own.

    • Mark Roggeman

      If your going to make a Comment Corine at least attempt to be inntelligent.,fyou wish all the the police would be fired. Come on. One question I would like answered is just what was the initial contact with De Herrera for I have not heard this reported or missed it. When you see this video played over and over it appears that the officer just grabbed him for no reason other then talking on the cell phone. We have no idea what was said or done before this comtact or why the officers were there in the first place. Could someone who knows pleas give me that info.

  • Daniel L.

    This officer lost the trust of the public he serves and he has to go. Everytime this officer answers a call and interacts with the public in anyway there are going to be many people who are going to recognize his name, who he is and what his name is associated with and no one is going to trust him, I certainly wouldn’t…….he’s got to go.

  • Jim Freilinger

    Chief Whitman should have looked into this closer from the start instead of public outrage forcing him to actually look at the situation instead of sweeping it under the carpet. Their motto should be ” To serve and Cover up”.

    • Christine Alling

      You’re exactly right. I’d blame the head of internal affairs, Ed Hall as well.

  • Stan

    The Denver Police Department is corrupt to its core. There is a significant culture that allows all officers to act this way. I unfortunately have had the opportunity to file a complaint against an officer. And, the outcome of that investigation……closed and unsubstantiated. The funny thing is, I am a cop as well…and there were other officers there that witnessed the problem. However, because the DPD officers did not corroborate the “outside law enforcement story”, the allegations were ruled to be unfounded. Brotherhood of the badge and corruption at its best.

    • AvgDude

      You sound like you are jealous you are not a DPD officer. Couldn’t make the cut huh? A cop that is a cop hater…please don’t respond if I need help, I want an officer who can handle stressful situations, not run and tattle on someone!

      • carson

        Stan is simply stating that some DPD officers are criminals. Don’t try to change the subject with ad hominem attacks. A criminal is a criminal is a criminal and that includes cops. In my opinion, a criminal cop is worse than a criminal civilian. I am NOT the type of person whose fear makes them admire police curruption as you are. Right and wrong should override fear. You let fear of the world make you blind to the wrongness of law breaking cops. Its people like you that allow police corruption to flourish. Its kinda sickening.

      • Christine Alling

        You sound like a reactive, immature angry jerk. Of course they are corrupt. Turn on the news. Stop burying your head in the sand. The DPD are a seriously corrupt and frightening.

    • Christine Alling

      Stan, you are not the first police officer to tell me that about the DPD. I met a high ranking officer in Greenwood village and he told me the same thing. The DPD is unusually corrupt and it’s because their internal affairs department is corrupt, too. They are being investigated by the FBI for corruption.

    • Christine Alling

      BTW – Stan, I really respect you for voicing your opinion. A lot of times, law enforcement covers for one another. And then they wonder why they have such a PR problem. Your brave to speak the truth. After all, just because they have a badge, it doesn’t mean they aren’t criminals.

      I admire policemen and firemen because I am definitely not brave enough to do that kind of work. However, I think some people become police officers so they can abuse the law and get away with it.

  • Ivehadit

    AvgDude I think you need to re-read what Stan said Stan was just making a point showing that someone on the inside knows that there is that corruption going on. At no point does he sound jealous that he is not an DPD officer… in fact he sounds glad that he is not. It sounds like you are one of the ones who wouldn’t corroborate with allegations that Stan was stating… funny how people can percieve things when they aren’t true huh? Sucks when it’s said about you huh? Maybe next time… you should use that buffer that should be somewhere between your brain and your mouth before you speak and falsely accuse folks. I’d like to see you walk on water if you think that you are so perfect.

    • AvgDude

      Wow, Ivehadit can read minds…another authority hater that dislikes anything to do with police. Police officers need to show courage and respond to all who call for help. Even you and Stan. I support anyone who chooses the law enforement profession, because it is this type of person that keeps our country free so people like you and stan can enjoy your freedom and say whatever you like without fear. I stand by my earlier comment, if I need police help, I want an officer who can deal with stressful dangerous situations, has honor and integrity, not someone who is more concerned about being popular with the vocal minority. Somehow I do not think Ivehadit has ever had to depend on another for their safety, nor has had to do it in return.

      • carson

        Another thing that I find incredibly ironic about your thinking is that you say cops protect us from fear, yet cops like the one in this story CREATE FEAR. That is the very opposite of what you very naively think they do.

        Get into reality, dude.

      • carson

        Avedude: There is one huge principle tha you fail to understand, and that that no one is above the law, including cops. Their job is”law enforcement” not helping helpless people like you. If you like cops then you like obedience to the law, if you like obedience to the law, then you should DISlike cops breaking the law.

        You sound like one of those people who pu their own sense of security above the law and that is sickening. Cops breaking the law should face the exact same consequences as civilians. Get into the real world please. Look at things beyond your own fear. Be tougher.

      • Christine Alling

        AvgDude has Below Avg intelligence.

  • Stan

    Well, it is interesting that your speak of honor and integrity and not someone that wants to be popular…..that is exactly the point I am trying to make. The situation that I spoke of in my earlier comment is exactly that. I was willing to step up with honor and integrity to report a situation where the Denver Police officer at minimum violated policy, and in my opinion, broke the law. It was significantly more courageous to stand outside the brotherhood of the badge, than to just let another rouge cop go unchecked. The cowardly thing would be to stand silent. And, by the way, I have been in many stressful situations and will defend my fellow officers to the death in any battle. But, I will not let another officer tarnish the badge that I still wear. And, the other commentator is right….I do NOT and have never wanted to be a DPD officer…..for this exact reason. I just wish my agency would not have to deal with them….period.

    • Phil

      You paint with a very broad brush Stan….. No doubt you work for a perfect organization. Are all Denver officers law breakers?. Perhaps Denver requires more than mere allegation to sustain complaints. I’m sure that you and your agency’s officers never get complaints. Denver officers have to deal with the largest population in the state along with the highest rate of crime including violent crimes. More Denver Officers have been killed in the line of duty than any other agency in Colorado. Aren’t Denver Officers your fellow officers? I wish you didn’t have to deal with Denver Police either. They have enough to worry about without you making trouble there.

  • Jess

    God bless Stan and those whom have supported his view finally the Chief of the Denver Police Department has taken the action he should have taken within 30 days after the attack .He is on the right track NOW how about the case where the man walking his two dogs was attacked by two officers for offering to be a witness for the person stopped on a traffic violation ????

  • anfie

    This is such a challenging subject … if you don’t like police officers and would prefer to live in a place where no one attempts to enforce the law, there are many places (including Iraq and currently, Libya) where you would be welcome to move and attempt to defend yourself from all manner of crimes. If you, like me, prefer to live in a place where it is in fact illegal to harm your fellow citizens, then the challenge before us is how do we accomplish creating such a place without giving any one group (police) too much power. I agree with many of the posters who suggest it is a “cultural” issue within the police force. The leadership of the organization needs to set and enforce a culture of “not above the law and respect for all”. I think that is what he is doing in this case.

    I share many posters concerns that this effort to “establish a better culture” by firing seems to have been belated and brought on by a videotape. Let’s be sure we don’t assume facts we don’t have (we don’t know if the police chief in fact had this videotape in his possession earlier).. But that is why the freedom we have to “watch over the watchers” that we are all excercising right now through this forum is so important — keep up the good work!

    For my part – thanks to all of the brave officers of the DPD and other jurisdictions who risk life and limb to keep me and my family safe — and please each of you do your best to continually improve your culture so we all can look at you with trust and not fear.

    • Christine Alling

      Sounds like someone with a police officer in their family. I respect police–but not dirty ones. In the DPD, the dirty ones outnumber the good ones and they’re given too much autonomy. They need to be with partners so their behavior can be monitored.

  • Peter

    my wife and I are professionals in our 40’s. We were on the mall the other day and watched 4 police officers abuse an apparently homeless person who was face down and cuffed. We are a lot more afraid of the police now in Denver than we are of the criminals

  • Christine Alling

    I’ve lived in 5 cities and I’ve always respected the police. The Devner Police department is disgusting and dangerous. The biggest problem is that their Internal Affairs department is also corrupt. They are being investigated by the FBI. Ed Hall, the head of the Internal Affairs department is nothing but a puppet who covers up for the DPD.

    The Denver Police Department is low class, arrogant, violent and apathetic. I think most of them are criminals.

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