DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s Department of Safety announced on Tuesday that they have fired two deputies who were both involved in situations where inmates in the Denver Jail were treated with inappropriate use of force.
The more high profile case was that of former deputy Edward Keller.
Keller allegedly choked inmate Jamal Hunter on July 31, 2011, and then threw him to the ground before another deputy shocked Hunter with a stun gun. The incident was captured on the jail’s video security system.
Last month the city approved a $3.25 million settlement for Hunter.
The city stated in a prepared statement that Keller was being fired for “his willful disregard of the guiding principles to provide for the care, safety, and security of inmates.”
“His egregious misconduct is unacceptable and unbefitting the title of Deputy Sheriff,” the city’s news release stated.
The sheriff department didn’t do an internal investigation until more than two years later, only after Denver’s Independent Monitor learned of the incident and began asking questions, pressing the Department of Safety and sheriff to look into the incident and do an internal investigation.
Hunter’s attorney, Qusair Mohamedbhai, says his case brought to light the problems within the Denver Sheriff Department in regards to how they treat inmates.
“The termination of Deputy Keller is bittersweet. Mr. Hunter is happy he’s fired but disappointed that it took 3 1/2 years and a federal court to do the right thing,” Mohamedbhai said.
According to the Associated Press, Keller’s attorney, Donald Sisson, said Keller will appeal his firing and that his use of force was reasonable and he’s a political scapegoat.
The city also announced the firing of Deputy Thomas Ford, who they say used inappropriate force in a separate case. Ford allegedly punched an inmate who had allegedly been taunting him.
The city states he “struck the inmate in the face with a closed fist at a time when he posed no credible threat and subsequently kicked the inmate while he was on the ground.”
That incident was also captured on security video.
“(Ford’s) conduct was found to violate the Department’s use of force policy in several respects,” city officials wrote.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey previously announced they would not charge Ford because a jury would likely find the use of force appropriate.
“Deputy Ford is going to appeal this decision. He believes, I certainly believe, that the decision was wrong. The decision Mitch Morrisey arrived at when he looked at this case was the right decision,” Ford’s attorney Sean Olson said.
The firings come as the Denver Sheriff’s Department is in the midst of making reforms after these and other misconduct cases.
To view Deputy Keller’s termination letter click here.
To view Deputy Ford’s termination letter click here.
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