DENVER (CBS4) – Two Denver police officers have their jobs back after being fired in March over an aggressive arrest in LoDo.
A Denver Civil Service hearing panel on Tuesday ruled the firings of officers Randy Murr and Devin Sparks were improper. They found that once the officers were given one penalty by the Denver Manager of Safety the new official in that position could not rescind the penalty and hand out a more severe one.“I was very surprised. It was something I definitely wasn’t expecting, so I’m just very shocked,” said Michael Deherrera, the man seen on security video being beaten on April 4, 2009.
The release of the video combined with a light punishment at the time — loss of three days pay for lying on reports — sparked a wave of criticism against the Denver Police Department.
In the video Sparks was seen confronting then 23-year-old DeHerrera, who was on the phone with his father while his companion was being restrained on the ground by police. DeHerrera was then slammed to the ground and seen being repeatedly beaten.
Ron Perea, the Manager of Safety at the time, said the video didn’t tell the full story.
Perea eventually resigned after community meetings and protests over alleged police brutality.
DeHerrera and his father, Anthony DeHerrera, met with the mayor, police chief and many others. Eventually the punishment for the officers was rescinded and new Manager of Safety Charles Garcia ordered Murr and Sparks fired.
Murr and Sparks then appealed to the Civil Service Commission.
“I do not agree with the hearing officers’ decision to overturn their termination,” current Manager of Safety Ashley Kilroy said in a statement.
Mayor Michael Hancock’s office told CBS4 the city attorney will appeal the Civil Service Commission’s decision.
“It’s horrible, a sad day, totally wrong,” said Anthony DeHerrera, Michael’s father. “If former Manager of Safety Ron Perea had made the right decision this wouldn’t have happened.”
Anthony DeHerrera said he and his family are now “shocked, very disappointed, appalled, sick to our stomachs.”
“We just can’t believe what’s happening today,” he told CBS4 on Tuesday by phone.
Murr and Sparks are now to undergo the reinstatement process and will be placed in off-street assignments upon their return.
“I’m willing to keep on fighting for what’s right and what’s wrong, and in this instance they were definitely wrong, so we’re not going away. I know my dad always says it, and he means it,” Michael Deherrera said.