By Stan Bush
LA JUNTA, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will not release video of an altercation with police in La Junta that left a man paralyzed.
On Tuesday, the agency completed an investigation into a Dec. 7, 2015 incident where two officers allegedly beat a handcuffed man and then ordered him to be restrained to a hospital gurney.
La Junta Police Sgt. Vince Fraker and Officer John McMillan were allegedly taking Donovan Duran to the Arkansas Valley Medical Center after being arrested for public intoxication.
Duran, 24, says he was beaten in the parking lot with his hands cuffed behind his back before being taken in to the hospital.
According to hospital records released by Duran’s attorney, the officers ordered Duran to be restrained by his arms and legs to a stretcher. He was placed in an unstaffed room and the officers left without explanation and without filing a report. There is also no record of the arrest.
Duran says while he was handcuffed he began experiencing excruciating pain in his back and called for help, but no one came to help. He says when medical staff attended to him he was stood up and immediately collapsed under his weight before he was taken in for x-rays. Doctors found damage to his spine. He is paralyzed below the waist and has lost full function in his hands.
“I finally started feeling weaker and weaker and my neck started hurting,” said Duran in a previous interview with CBS4. “I knew something was wrong and I told them I couldn’t move. They didn’t believe me. The doctor lifted me up and I fell to the floor and my legs went in different directions.
La Junta Police assigned Fraker and McMillan to administrative duty but would not comment on what type of discipline the officers could face.
The CBI launched an investigation into the incident, but denied Duran’s attorneys access to videos captured on the officer’s body cameras and video surveillance at the scene, saying the release was not in the public interest.
“I just can’t explain or figure out why it wouldn’t serve the public interest unless they’re just protecting public sensibilities,” says Duran’s attorney Durant Davidson of The McDivitt Law Firm.
Davidson says the video will provide clear evidence that Duran is the victim of police brutality.
“The public has a right to know,” says Davidson. “The public needs to know if their police agencies are acting properly or if they’re abusing their authority.”
A special prosecutor has been assigned to review the case. The officers could face criminal charges, but there is no timeline for the decision. Duran’s attorneys say they are considering filing a lawsuit to obtain the videos.
“There are many unanswered questions. They need to be answered and put to rest. The sooner we get those the sooner this case can be concluded.”