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Officers Fired Over LoDo Beating Case

DENVER (AP) – Two Denver police officers have been fired after their aggressive, videotaped arrest of a suspect prompted investigations and the resignation of the city’s safety manager, a city official said Friday.

Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr were let go for their actions in the arrest of Michael DeHerrrera in April 2009 outside a downtown nightclub, new Denver Safety Manager Charles Garcia announced.

The release last year of a video showing DeHerrera being thrown to the ground and something being struck in the corner of the frame led to calls for the firing of former safety manager Ron Perea, who stepped down in August amid public outcry.

“It would have been my word against the cops and without a video, my word against them wasn’t worth a whole lot,” said DeHerrera, who attended the news conference where Garcia announced the firings. “Those two cops will never do what they did to me or anybody else. So what I went through was worth it.”

Garcia said both officers were fired for deceptive acts, and Sparks received additional discipline for use of excessive force.
space Officers Fired Over LoDo Beating Case

Denver Police Protective Association attorney David Bruno did not immediately return a call. Sparks declined comment when reached by The Associated Press. There was no phone listing for Murr.

Garcia cited the possibility of an appeal and declined to discuss why his decision was different from one by Perea, who disciplined the officers for filing an inaccurate report about the incident and said no excessive force was used.

Denver’s independent police monitor, a post established in 2005 after a rash of fatal officer-involved shootings, said the two officers should have been fired rather than just suspended.

Interim Mayor Guillermo “Bill” Vidal said he had made it a priority to resolve police misconduct cases because the two years it can take “leaves a cloud on the way we’re deciding things and it brings questions to our outcome.”

Denver City Council members Doug Linkhart and Paul Lopez said they’ll explore ways to streamline the police discipline process that involves seven reviews, including supervisors, a citizens board, the monitor and the manager of safety.

Key to the firings was video from the police department’s own surveillance system. The video shows DeHerrera’s friend, Shawn Johnson, on the ground with officers around him, and DeHerrera watching and talking on a cell phone while gesturing.

An officer grabs DeHerrera and forces him to the street. The camera moves back, but a person in the corner of the frame can be seen repeatedly striking something.

In a lawsuit filed last year, DeHerrera said Johnson was tackled by an officer after an argument between Johnson and a nightclub bouncer spilled outside. DeHerrera said he was screaming for help and was slammed face first into the sidewalk by an officer trying to take him down.

One of the officers hit DeHerrera repeatedly with a piece of lead wrapped in leather, according to the lawsuit. DeHerrera was taken to the hospital and later to jail, according to the lawsuit that KMGH said was settled by each man for $15,500.

Assault, resisting arrest and other charges against the two were dropped.

DeHerrera’s father, Anthony, a 23-year veteran of the Pueblo County sheriff’s office, said he’d like charges filed against the officer in the video. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said no charges will be filed.

Morrissey’s office reviewed the case in 2009 and again last year when Denver police reopened their investigation, and found no basis for charges, Kimbrough said.

– By P. Solomon Banda, AP Writer

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Read the entire statement released by the Department of Safety

  • Diamondback

    The Denver Police Dept IS the largest criminal street gang in the city.

    Just fact.

  • jay hull

    Caught because is was on camera. HAHA DPD Sucks

  • Susan

    YES! YES! YES!!!!!!!!!

  • jp

    Better late than never. Still can’t believe this took that long though.

  • denvervet

    Must have had a terrible lawyer to only get 17,500 $ out of it. I am sorry but I won’t judge the police, I was not there, don’t know what the kid said to them, he may have threatened them or others, really not sure. I think our police are pretty good given the environment out there with drugs, gangs, bank robberies, murders, etc. Its a thankless job.

  • Philip

    Finally Denver police officers are being punished for their misdeeds they have literally gotten away with murder for too long. The police union is whining about it
    because they seem to think they are above the law. Sorry but the officers got caught behaving like the criminals they are and got what they deserve. The union can take their whining about it and shove it.

  • Ben

    These Denver “policemen” are pigs. No, not the entire force, just these two low-lifes. I am so happy that they will not be “protecting and serving” our community anymore.

  • Will

    Its time to go outside for a Chief – and I’d suggest finding one that’s from Wisconsin and knows how to bust apart a useless entity such as the police union that is obviously out of sync with the community its suppose to serve. We certainly DON’T want someone like Dr. Chief Keesee (which is it Dr. or Chief?? – how pretentious!!!) who is supporting this band of thugs behind scenes thru the Union!!

    • simuchogusto

      Why do I keep seeing Keesee’s name in different blogs? It would seem that she’s supporting everyone, including the police union. Is it true? Just how many candidates is she working for?

      I’m with you Will. National search for a chief of police. That doesn’t necessarily eliminate any internal candidate, including Whitman. After all, he’s done a good job in many areas, hasn’t he? What about the DNC, G8, NBA All Star Game, etc. It other cities where these events occured, there was rioting, damage, injuries, tear gas floating through downtown…..not in Denver. What about scandals in other cities? New Orleans, L.A. Rampart, New York, New Jersey or Rialto. Huge scandals. In Denver, some excessive force incidents. I’d say Whitman’s doing a pretty good job.

  • douggie

    Interesting. I know and have dealt with Mr. Linkhart on more than one occasion and I can assure you that when it comes to police work, he hasn’t a clue. As mayor, his leadership would be disastrous for public safety and therefore for the citizens of Denver. As far as taking credit for helping to develop the discipline matrix, it seems that Mr. Linkhart has a habit of taking credit for helping create almost every program ever started in Denver. Seriously, go back and check his public comments, listen to his speeches. He takes credit for everything. He must be very busy.

    In reality, we can attribute the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries to Doug. His campaign logo should include a marijuana leaf. Instead of criticizing good police officers and their chief, he should focus on the damage he’s done to youth in our community who are constantly dealing with substance abuse issues. Yes, Doug, 18 year olds, trying to fight addiction, can now run in and get their mm card simply by saying they have a bad back. And they’re doing it, Doug. I have no problem with medical marijuana, but by your leadership in this area Doug, you’ve done a lot of damage.

    I’ve spoken with Mr. Linkhart and truly, it’s like talking to someone who’s completely unfocused. He seems to think that if the police form plans for a major event, are prepared and professional, and no disruption occurs, then you didn’t need the police in the first place.

    Doug Linkhart is a very poor choice for mayor. He is, however, a good choice to the position of ” Worlds Foremost Authority”

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