By Jennifer McRae

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Two former Boulder County Sheriff’s deputies, charged with manslaughter in the death of a man they were transporting to detox, were found guilty on Friday evening. The jury returned the guilty verdicts for manslaughter in the 2018 death of 23-year-old Demetrius Shankling for both James O’Brien and Adam Lunn.

Adam Lunn and Jim O’Brien (credit: Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

District Attorney Michael Dougherty stated, “This jury verdict is justice. But for the acts of defendant James O’Brien and defendant Adam Lunn, Demetrius Shankling would be alive today. Instead, because of them, the 23rd birthday he celebrated that night was his last. The guilty verdicts reflect what members of law enforcement, including Sheriff Joe Pelle, immediately recognized about the actions of these two individuals on September 9, 2018. They are fully responsible for the death of Demetrius. It was a difficult trial, but our team was honored to fight for justice for the victim and his family. We appreciate the jury’s service. They reached the right and just outcome.”

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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.

Demetrius Shankling (credit: Facebook)

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.

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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.

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Sentencing is set for Nov. 4.

Jennifer McRae