BOULDER, Colo. (AP/CBS4) — Two sheriff’s deputies in Colorado charged with manslaughter in the death of a man they were transporting to detox are no longer with their department. The employment of both James O’Brien and Adam Lunn ended Monday, the Daily Camera reports.
Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Mike Wagner said he could not comment further on the case because it is a personnel matter, so it is not clear whether the officers resigned or were fired.
O’Brien and Lunn were charged with manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Demetrius Shankling.
Investigators say Shankling was highly intoxicated when officers contacted him on Sept. 9, 2018. Deputies O’Brien and Lunn picked up Shankling at about 2:30 a.m. to transport him to the Addiction Recovery Center (ARC).
The affidavit states that Shankling was “uncooperative and antagonistic” and “passively” resisted getting into the van.
The deputies handcuffed Shankling and placed him on his stomach in a small compartment within a transport van. Investigators determined that both deputies had been specifically trained to not place a handcuffed individual in this position.
After putting Shankling in the prisoner compartment, the deputies could be heard making comments such as “adios muchacho,” “hasta la vista,” and “another satisfied customer.”
When they arrived at the ARC the deputies discovered Shankling’s face was “purplish-gray” and he was unconscious and not breathing. Shankling never regained consciousness. He died 27 days later on Oct. 6, 2018.
An autopsy revealed Shankling died from positional asphyxia based on being compressed into the compartment in the transport van. The forensic pathologist concluded the manner of death to be homicide.
Both men were placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 9 as the sheriff’s office conducted an internal investigation into possible policy violations separate from a criminal investigation done by the Boulder County district attorney’s office.
Both men remain free on personal recognizance bonds and are set for an arraignment hearing in May.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)