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Denver Deputies Choked And Stunned Inmate, Complaint Alleges

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DENVER (CBS4) - Denver sheriff’s deputies choked and stun-gunned an inmate who sought medical attention two weeks after he was beaten and scarred by other jail inmates, according to a report unsealed Thursday.

Those court documents, ordered released by a federal judge, allege deputy Edward Keller choked Jamal Hunter and then threw him to the ground. Sgt. Anthony Mazzei then shocked Hunter with a stun gun, the documents say.

The attack happened, Hunter says, on July 31, 2011. He filed the inmate grievance on Aug. 10. The sheriff’s department suspended Keller for 30 days for “use of inappropriate force.”

The alleged attack on Jamal Hunter (credit: Denver Sheriff's Department)

The alleged attack on Jamal Hunter (credit: Denver Sheriff’s Department)

Those allegations are tied to a civil suit filed by Hunter, who claims law enforcement ignored the July 18 jailhouse beating by other inmates. One of those inmates, Amos Page, said he participated in the first attack on Hunter but later decided to testify on Hunter’s behalf. The alleged attack by sheriff’s deputies happened 13 days later.

Jamal Hunter (credit: CBS)

Jamal Hunter (credit: CBS)

Denver police, who investigated Hunter’s initial claims, then tried to intimidate Page into dropping his testimony, Hunter’s complaint says. His suit also says sheriff’s deputy Gaynel Rumer turned “a blind eye” to the first beating, dubs Rumer as “wild” and often drunk at the jail, and accuses him of distributing pornography and marijuana to other inmates for them to sell.

CIVIL COMPLAINT: An excerpt from Hunter’s complaint (warning: strong language)

Federal Judge John Kane requested an investigation. On Wednesday, Denver attorneys filed a motion to keep documents sealed.

“He’s taken the additional step in saying something is not right here and there needs to be (outside investigation) — in this case, the federal system coming in and looking for possible civil rights violations,” CBS4 legal analyst Karen Steinhauser said.

In a conversation between police detectives and Page, they warned the inmate if he testified: “You’re subjecting yourself to a felony criminal charge for what happened to (Hunter).”

Page wasn’t prosecuted for the attack on Hunter, and the city’s district attorney’s office refused the case twice.

“There’s going to be oversight. It’s not going to be a matter of things as usual in terms of the Denver Police Department,” Steinhauser said.

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