DENVER (CBS4)– There will be no disciplinary action against five Denver Sheriff’s deputies who were involved in restraining inmate Marvin Booker before he died, the Denver Manager of Safety said on Monday after an internal affairs investigation was completed.
Booker died July 9, 2010, at the age of 56 after deputies held him down and Tased him at the new Denver City Jail.
Family members, the Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance and prominent black leaders in the city were upset after a decision by Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey not to file charges against the deputies who placed Booker in a “sleeper” hold and piled on top of him in addition to using the Taser on him.
Morrissey declared the use of force against Booker was justified.
After Morrissey’s decision the internal affairs investigation was launched.
After sharing a 40 page report on the investigation during a news conference Monday Charles Garcia, the manager of safety, also showed security video that captured the incident to reporters during his morning announcement. Some of the video was released publicly and CBS4 showed it on CBS4 News:
There are four camera angles of the incident. Only two of the angles were released to reporters although they were able to see all of them.
Booker appeared agitated in the video. Denver deputy sheriff Dawn Gomez told Booker to sit down. Officials say that’s when he swore at her and said, “I don’t have to do what you say.”
According to the city, Gomez then ordered Booker to a holding cell but he turns away to a seating area.
As the events unfold, a total of five deputies are involved with Booker wrestling him to the floor. City officials say Booker was still resisting at the time and swearing at the female deputy.
One of the deputies then calls for a Taser. While waiting for the Taser, the deputies are still restraining Booker. When the Taser is delivered, it used on Booker’s right leg.
After that the city says Booker is no longer resisting or talking but it does believe he was alive at that time. That’s when he was carried to a holding cell. The department says it was about one minute, 45 seconds from the time the cell door was closed until deputies re-entered with a nurse.
After the internal review of the case, Garcia made his decision about the deputies.
“I conclude that the five deputies involved in this matter did not violate the department’s use of force policy or any other departmental rules as they relate to these incidents,” he said.
“My office has reviewed every aspect of this case and have complete and detailed explanations for the decision.”
“The sheriff’s department and its deputies take very seriously their mission to maintain safety and security in our jails,” Garcia said. “We will continue as a team to review our policies and procedures to take any necessary steps to prevent this type of thing from ever happening again.”
Read the complete report on the case released on Monday on a special page on the city’s website.
The sheriff’s department has made changes since Booker’s death including suspending the use of the carotid hold to restrain inmates and creating a task force about the use of force in the jail.
Right after Booker’s death the use of the carotid restraint was suspended and Undershirt Gary Wilson says that suspension will remain in place.
Denver officials said they understand the Booker family and the community has concerns about the death.
“I know that not everyone in the community will be satisfied with our disciplinary decision and we know that some of our citizens are angered by the death of someone under our custody,” Denver Mayor Bill Vidal said. “Although that’s important and that’s justifiable, we also hope they keep in mind how difficult the job is of our deputies inside the detention center, how complex their decisions sometimes need to be.”
“The investigation into the death of Mr. Booker was one of the most comprehensive investigations of a critical incident conducted by the Department of Safety in the six and a half years since I began monitoring such investigations,” said Richard Rosenthal in a written statement, Office of the Independent Monitor. “The Monitor’s Office actively monitored this case from beginning to end. We rolled out shortly after the incident and sat in on Homicide Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau interviews. I concluded that the investigation was thorough and complete and the findings made by Manager Garcia were reasonable and appropriate.”
“While my prayers go out to the Booker family and I understand the concerns raised by community members, a fair and objective evaluation of the case resulted in my agreement with the Manager that no policies or rules were violated by the involved deputies,” said Rosenthal.
Booker’s family members and other members of the community have planned a news conference for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in front of the United States District Court in Denver at 19th and Champa. They plan to demand a federal investigation into Booker’s death (read the news release).