DENVER (CBS4) – Five and a half years after Denver sheriff’s deputies grappled with Marvin Booker, some leaders in the state legislature are attempting to prevent the scenario that ended his life.
Deputies lay on top of Booker in an effort to control him during his booking process in the Denver Jail. He was shocked with a stun gun and put in a sleeper hold, and he died after that.
State Rep. Jovan Melton is pushing for limits to the restraint tactics used by some police during arrests. He introduced legislation along those lines, but he says police would still be able to use so-called “choke holds” for self defense.
“We’re really just talking about using the choke hold when detaining someone or trying to arrest someone. And most departments across Colorado have already taken steps towards not using it,” the Aurora Democrat said.
The Booker case was a costly one for Denver. The city wound up paying more than $6 million to the Booker family.
“I’d say (the Booker case) is an isolated case here in Colorado, however it’s not an isolated case across the country,” Melton said.
Lawmakers who are trying to limit the huge payouts from lawsuits like that in the Booker case are also eyeing the hiring process for police officers. One potential case in point is former Rocky Ford police officer James Ashby. He was accused of murder after the shooting death of a suspected burglar.
Sometime later, reports surfaced that he was accused of official misconduct.
Rep. Angela Williams is behind a bill that would make disclosure of a police officer’s employment history easier to obtain.
“When a person wants to be hired by a Colorado law enforcement agency they (would) have to sign a waiver to release their personnel files,” said Williams, a Democrat who represents Denver.
Both bills could go before the full Colorado House of Representatives next week. They passed out of committee on Thursday.