DENVER (CBS4) – Friends and family street preacher Marvin Booker, who died in 2010 after being subdued by Denver sheriff’s deputies, say the City of Denver has a “murderous culture” that led to Booker’s death.

Although the district attorney decided not to file criminal charges against the five sheriff’s deputies accused of using brutal force at the Downtown Detention Center that lead to Booker’s death, family members on Sunday prayed for justice in the civil trial that starts Monday.

“As we sit in that courtroom, change it from a courtroom to a house of worship, God,” Shorter Community AME Church Pastor Timothy E. Tyler said to Booker’s supporters on Sunday.

In July 2010, the 56-year-old street preacher, homeless at the time, died after sheriff’s deputies subdued him by piling on top of him, putting him in a choke hold, and shooting him with a stun gun.

“I don’t preach against police officers and sheriff’s deputies, I preach against an evil culture,” Tyler told the audience.

Tyler says the City of Denver’s recent admission of liability for the actions of five deputies accused of causing Booker’s death is a legal maneuver to try and prevent evidence showing a long-standing pattern of bad training and cruel policies.

“Right now, the people of Denver need to know that Denver can rise above the racism and disregard for justice that seems to be permeating the rest of our country,” Tyler said.

According to a report in The Denver Post, the strategy of accepting responsibility means recent excessive force complaints cannot be presented as evidence.

Shorter Community AME Church Pastor Timothy E. Tyler talks to the gathering on Sunday (credit: CBS)

Shorter Community AME Church Pastor Timothy E. Tyler talks to the gathering on Sunday (credit: CBS)

Elected representatives hope the truth will be revealed in the civil trial.

“Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” said state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

“We stand with this community because our community has suffered as well,” Rep. Joe Salazar with the Latino Democratic Caucus said.

“You have courage, you give us inspiration to be here,” Rep. Angela Williams with the Black Legislative Caucus said.

CBS4 reached out to the mayor’s office and the private attorney representing the City of Denver in the civil trial, Thomas Rice, but he declined comment.

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