DENVER (CBS4)– In a unanimous vote, the Colorado Court of Appeals has decided the City of Denver was wrong in firing a Denver Sheriff’s Deputy over a 2009 incident that the City believed was an example of excessive force.
The Court of Appeals decision, released Thursday, marks the fourth venue where the city has lost in its attempt to fire Deputy Matthew Carothers for his handling of inmate Alfredo Martinez on November 20, 2009.
“Officer Carothers is very happy to have yet a fourth tribunal rule in his favor and affirm his reinstatement to the Denver Sheriff’s Department ,” said Carother’s attorney Danny Foster, when contacted by CBS4 .
“The Career Service Board, Denver District Court and finally the Colorado Court of appeals have all repeatedly ruled in Officer Carother’s favor,” said Foster.
A Career Service Hearing officer initially overturned Carother’s termination.
In videotape of the 2009 incident, Deputy Carothers can be seen jerking a chain attached to Martinez’s handcuffs. The apparently drunk inmate was in a police holding cell but hit his head on a wall after the deputies’ forceful tug and required nine stitches for the cut he received.
The city fired Carothers in 2011 saying he had used excessive force and lied about what happened, which was recorded by two cameras. But a city hearing officer reinstated Carothers and said he should receive a ten day suspension. The Career Service Board upheld that decision.
In its opinion, the Court of Appeals wrote,”We do not conclude that the videotape ‘clearly contradicts’ Carothers’ version of events. The record contains competent evidence to support the hearing officer’s findings,” reads the opinion. “The hearing officer’s decision was supported by competent evidence.”
Carothers maintained he was not intentionally trying to injure the prisoner.
Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez gave CBS4 this statement, “The city is disappointed in this decision. We are weighing the appeal-able issues and will make a decision by early next week.”
“We are hopeful that the City is through wasting taxpayer dollars in this appellate process and will forgo any further attempts to reverse the career service ruling reinstating his position,” said Foster.
Deputy Carothers has remained on the job during much of the appeals process although in a position away from inmates according to Foster. In an earlier statement on the case, Denver’s Manager of Safety said Carothers used excessive force and lied about it, “We will continue to terminate sheriff personnel who use excessive force on inmates or who lie to internal affairs.”
The city can now ask the Colorado Supreme Court to review the firing and subsequent reinstatement of Deputy Carothers.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Court of Appeals Decision