Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Beaten Teen Wants His Life Back

It is absolutely unacceptable that the victim's compensation fund or the city can't find a way to pay for this.

Juan "Willie" Vasquez said he still wakes from nightmares, clawing at the air and crying out for protection from the police.

"It's always me running from the cops, and there are lots of them," the 16-year-old said in an interview today. "I'm dreaming about it all the time."

An encounter with a Denver police officer, who has been charged with felony assault, left the teen with a kidney that no longer works and a pile of unpaid medical bills in excess of $100,000.

A tube now drains waste from his body. He aches all the time. He sleeps most of the day.

"I just want my life back," he said during his first public comments on the incident.

He was once a par golfer, accomplished enough to attract the eyes of those who run the Park Hill Golf Club. Now he wonders whether he will ever again have a functioning kidney.

On April 18, at 9:30 p.m., Vasquez had a beer in his hand while with a group of friends on the front porch of a home near West 37th Avenue and Pecos Street when he was spotted by Officer Charles Porter and others from Denver police's gang unit.

Vasquez, who says he's not a gang member, says he ran because he's a 16-year-old who knew he was caught with an unopened beer.

The district attorney's office has said that when Porter caught up to Vasquez, the 12-year veteran officer subdued the 5-foot-6, 130-pound teen and jumped up and down on his back. Vasquez said he had tripped near a fence after being hit with a flashlight by another officer and that he curled up on the ground before Porter started jumping on him.

"I begged, 'Please, please stop.' The pain was unbearable," Vasquez said. "It could have been death if he had done it a couple more times. It would have busted me right open."

Porter has been charged with felony assault. Vasquez, who had to be rushed to the emergency room, was never cited for the beer, he said.

"His worst crime was being a kid," said his adult cousin Veronica Gonzales, who, as his legal guardian, has raised him since his mother died when he was 9.

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

Maybe it would be appropriate if officer Porter donated the 16 year old a kidney??? djw

Mary-Ellen, Mimi, Jason said...

Perfect poetic justice. The officer donates his kidney!

Anonymous said...