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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.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Errors Clutter Denver Arrests

Jose Carmen Mendez pleaded with the Denver police officer to let him go, telling him that he had the wrong man and that he needed to finish picking up paint for his job at an auto body shop.

The 36-year-old father of four ended up in jail for three days, missing work and losing money that he could have used to help him stay current on his rent.

"I kept saying, 'It's not me,' but they wouldn't listen," Mendez said recently.

City officials now confirm that the police officer arrested the wrong man that February day. Police and jail officials offered few details on how the mix-up occurred, other than to say the warrants specified the wanted man went by the name Jose C. Mendez-Franco and Jose Carmen Franco Mendez.

Mendez, who doesn't have Franco as part of his name, is one of a string of questionable detentions in Denver. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of seven other individuals and alleges wrongful detentions have become a "systemic pattern" in Denver.

"City officials keep telling us they are fixing this, and yet they reveal they have five new cases in 2009 alone," said Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the ACLU of Colorado.


Anonymous said...

All of these wrongfully jailed individuals deserve a hefty sum for their emotional and financial suffering.

The system in Colorado should be held liable. Enough of this 'immunity' crap. There will be more screw-ups as long as there are no consequences for shoddy arrests, etc.

LOTS of financial compensation for the victims of inaccurate identity -and- wrongful imprisonment causing harm to reputation and loss of years in society!

Anonymous said...

It all goes back to the fact that Colorado doesnt follow the constitution and as far as i am concerned the ACLU of Colorado is a do nothing bunch. I contacted them back in 2004 to help an inmate in Colorado who had been raped and was told they couldnt help as they had no money??? I went to the FBI to report the crime, (citizens duty) and was told to go home and forget about it???If any of you are wondering why some people just lose it and go on shooting spree's, its actions like Colorado's DA's, judges who assist the DA's and all those officials that protect public figures who commit crimes and participate in coverups for there fellow workers. Your Ritter's form of government stinks. But then he was elected by Colorado voters??? Wake up voters.djw

Anonymous said...

I'm fully aware of the cover-ups and exchanges in court for lesser sentences with those who (ahem) cooperate. Public safety is NOT the priority. Judges and prosecutors are notorious for unethical behavior that could potentially lead to victimizing the public. This is fact.

I agree. Ritter is duplicitous.

djw. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Without meaning to detract from the above, it could have been worse -- the cop could have just pulled out his gun and shot and killed the man. It seems that, at least in Denver, it is considered "OK" (i.e. no adverse consequences) for a cop to kill an innocent person posing no threat to anyone, without any objective basis for the killing, excused solely based on the cop's later statement that he "thought he saw" a weapon, even when no such weapon ever existed outside of the cop's imagination.

I have in mind a case from a few years ago where some Denver cop got a ladder, climbed up to the second-story bedroom window of a disabled man sitting in his own bed watching TV and drinking a Coke, took out his gun, and shot and killed the man without provocation. The man was totally innocent, doing what he was allowed to be doing in a private place he was allowed to be doing it; and the cop killed him with absolutely no objective justification whatsoever. No charges were ever filed against the cop. Even more outrageously, the cop was subsequently allowed back to armed duty!

The cop said he thought the Coke can was a gun. Giving the cop the benefit of the doubt as to his truthfulness, apparently under the stress of the situation he hallucinated his worst nightmare -- certainly the photons that reached the retina of the cop's eye were the reflection of a Coke can, but by the time the signal got to his consciousness it had transformed into a gun.

As far as I'm concerned, no cop who makes that sort of mistake gets a second chance to do it again. He has proven (if you believe him) that he experiences dangerous hallucinations under stress and so is not the sort of person cut out for a job where that poses deadly danger to innocent people. If he wants to stay in a law enforcement desk job that's fine (if you believe him), but not armed duty (well, maybe a baton, but certainly not a firearm).

Instead, the message sent by Denver's handling of the incident was pretty clear: if you're a cop in Denver you can kill someone without objective justification, and get away with it if you later convincingly say that you "thought you saw" a weapon, particularly if you've killed the only other witness to your act. Now THAT's immunity!

Anonymous said...