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CBS4 Investigation Prompts Adams County Probe Of Deputies

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An image from the surveillance tape (credit: CBS)

An image from the surveillance tape (credit: CBS)

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Investigator Brian Maass

BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – The Adams County District Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation into a 2011 incident at the Adams County Jail that prompted a defense attorney to claim deputies lied about a tussle with an inmate.

“These reports are bald-faced lies and the videotape shows it, but nothing is happening to these deputies,” said lawyer David Lane.

His client, Mario Ybarra, a career criminal, had been booked into the jail following a shoplifting arrest in Thornton on Jan. 22, 2011. Videotape from a jail camera shows Ybarra being fingerprinted, but a deputy suddenly tackling Ybarra after the inmate was verbally abusing deputies over technical problems with their fingerprint machine.

In written reports filed three months after the incident, deputies said they tackled Ybarra as he was attempting to leave the fingerprint area, although the jail videotape appears to show him standing still before the deputies took him down.

“We are just looking at your story and trying to get more information about the incident,” said Krista Flannigan, a spokesperson for Adams County District Attorney Don Quick. “We are reviewing the video and incident reports and have reached out to the sheriff’s office. We are making initial inquiries, collecting information.”

The Adams County Sheriff’s office has refused to discuss the apparent discrepancies between the deputies reports and the videotape aired by CBS4.

While the video seems to show Ybarra standing still before he is tackled, Deputy Jimmy Marshall wrote in his report “… Mr. Ybarra turned and walked away ….”

Deputy Michael Soto wrote in his report, “Mario Ybarra then stepped away from the machine and appeared to be exiting the fingerprint/mug shot area.”

“The videotape absolutely shows they lied in their reports,” said Lane.

While Ybarra never filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department, Adams County agreed to pay him $20,000.

RELATED STORY & VIDEO: Adams County Pays $20,000 In Excessive Force Case

Assistant County Attorney Heidi Miller said via email:

The settlement did not represent any judgment about the actions of the deputy. It was strictly a business decision. The case would have been filed in federal court and would have alleged civil rights violations. If we lost at trial, we would have to pay attorneys fees … at least $100,000.

Adams County District Attorney Don Quick told CBS4 he recently spoke with Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr about the incident.

“The only information I have is the video and the reports,” said Quick.

He said Darr informed him the sheriff’s office has initiated an internal investigation into the incident and the D.A would examine the case following the internal affairs probe. Asked if it was odd the sheriff was conducting an internal affairs investigation 13 months after the jail incident took place, Quick said “You’ll have to ask the sheriff.”

The sheriff’s department has refused to answer any questions about the Ybarra incident or about the accuracy of the deputies’ reports.

Quick said the sheriff told him the internal affairs investigation would take anywhere from four to six weeks to complete.

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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