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Third Suspension Reversed In Marshall Case

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – A City of Denver hearing officer has ordered a ten day suspension for a Denver Sheriff Captain overturned in connection with the 2015 jail death of Michael Marshall.

The disciplinary reversal for Captain James Johnson comes shortly after the same hearing officer reversed the disciplines for two deputies, and just days after it was announced the city would pay $4.65 million to the family of Michael Marshall.

On Nov. 11, 2015, Marshall scuffled with deputies at the Downtown Detention Center.

Image from the Michael Marshall encounter (credit: Denver Sheriff Department)

After the altercation, Marshall’s heart stopped beating. Marshall never regained consciousness and died nine days later.

An internal investigation followed resulting in a recommendation of no discipline for any deputies or commanders. However, the Manager of Safety’s office assessed discipline and the deputies appealed.

Captain Johnson was ordered suspended for ten days for failing to properly supervise deputies. But hearing officer Bruce Plotkin rejected that claim writing, “The Agency failed to prove Johnson violated any of the rules or orders alleged in its notice of discipline. The failure to prove any violation requires a reversal of discipline.”

Reached Monday evening, Johnson’s attorney, Dan Foster, blasted the disciplinary process. “The city should be ashamed that it attacked Captain Johnson and the other deputies in this case, but that has become all too common in the manager of safety’s office.  Further every citizen of the city of Denver should be appalled that the city of Denver is paying out a $4.8 million settlement to Mr. Marshall’s family when the evidence was clear that the sheriff’s did nothing wrong.”

The city can now appeal the hearing officers ruling.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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