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City Appeal Rejected In Deputy Firing

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An image of Alfredo Martinez on the ground after he had been injured (credit: CBS)

An image of Alfredo Martinez on the ground after he had been injured (credit: CBS)

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Investigator Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s Career Service Board has agreed with one of its hearing officers that a Denver sheriff’s deputy fired for manhandling an inmate should get his job back.

In a two-page opinion released this week, the Career Service Board rejected the city’s arguments in the firing of Deputy Matthew Carothers.

The sheriff’s department fired Carothers following an incident Nov. 20, 2009 involving what the city viewed as excessive force and untruthfulness. Carothers and a second deputy were assigned to pick up an inmate, Alfredo Martinez, from a Denver police substation. But when Carothers attempted to move the apparently drunk inmate out of his cell, video cameras showed the deputy grabbing at Martinez’s handcuffs, yanking the prisoner through the cell door and into a cinder block wall where the prisoners head slams against the wall. Martinez needed nine stitches for the wound.

But a hearing officer reinstated Carothers in January of this year ruling the deputy had no malicious intentions and was not trying to hurt Martinez. That led the city to appeal the reinstatement saying it “set terrible precedent.”

Below is a Web Extra video of two camera views of what occurred between Carothers and the inmate with unedited videotape. A caution, some of the language on the tape is strong and profane:

On Monday, the Career Service Board rejected the cities’ arguments and affirmed Carothers reinstatement.

Dan Foster, Carothers’ attorney, told CBS4, “We are very pleased that the Career Service Board affirmed the hearing officer’s findings and ruling reinstating Mr. Carothers. Mr. Carothers can now finally go back to his career as a deputy sheriff serving the people of the city of Denver.”

A spokesperson for Denver’s manager of safety issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“We terminated Carothers from employment for using excessive force on an inmate, as clearly shown in a video, and for lying about it to Internal Affairs. This termination was recommended by both Director Wilson and the independent monitor. Moreover, it was supported by the evidence in the case.

“The hearing officer made an erroneous decision that was not based on the evidence in the record before him and we appealed on this basis. On appeal, the Career Service Board effectively refuses to review the case because our lawyers’ brief did not have a sufficient number of specific citations to the record to satisfy the board and, ‘It is not the board’s responsibility to sift through the record looking for evidence … on these grounds, the board affirms a decision that was not based on the facts in the case. Thus, we are required to keep this deputy employed, and to pay for the time he wasn’t working, for reasons which have nothing to do with the correctness of our decision or, more importantly, the wrongfulness of the deputy’s conduct.

“This outcome is neither just nor in the public interest. We will ask our attorney to take the case to District Court and we will continue to terminate sheriff personnel who use excessive force on inmates or who lie to Internal Affairs.”

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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