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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Beaten Denver jail inmate sues now-fired deputy and city - The Denver Post

Beaten Denver jail inmate sues now-fired deputy and city - The Denver Post

A Denver City Jail inmate who was beaten by a former sheriff's deputy has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the city has a "deliberate indifference" to a pattern of unconstitutional misconduct by its law enforcement officers.

Robert Duran sued former Deputy Steven Koehler and the city and county of Denver on July 1 for the incident in the jail, which was partially captured on videotape.

Koehler was fired in December after an internal affairs investigation.

He appealed his termination, arguing his actions were justified because Duran was combative, but the Colorado State Personnel Board upheld his firing.

Duran's lawsuit, filed by attorneys David Lane and Qusair Mohamedbhai, says the city has a "continuing, persistent and widespread practice of unconstitutional misconduct by its law enforcement engaging in excessive force."

City Attorney David Fine declined to comment on the lawsuit because his office had not been served with the complaint and he had not had an opportunity to view it.

On March 22, 2009, Duran was booked into the jail on a third-degree assault charge, and once there, he got into a fight with a fellow prisoner in a holding cell.

Duran was told to move toward an elevator so he could be taken to another part of the jail. Koehler approached him and asked, "You want to be a bad---?" the suit says.

The videotape shows Duran put his hands up and was not aggressive toward Koehler.

Koehler then pushed Duran up against the elevator wall, dragged him out and then slammed his head into the frame of a doorway about 10 feet from the elevator.

Koehler then kicked Duran, who was handcuffed, all over his head and body, the suit says.

"Other unknown deputies attempted and eventually succeeded in controlling Koehler," the suit says.

Duran had cuts on his scalp, a bruised chest and ribs, and a head injury.

Criminal charges against Duran were dismissed, and none was ever filed against him with regard to the incident with Koehler.

Koehler told internal affairs investigators that Duran was hostile, yelling and using hand gestures toward him. The former deputy claimed Duran took a fighting stance and refused to get out of the jail's elevator. But the video shows Duran put his hands in the air in a surrendering gesture.

Koehler also claimed he tried to protect fellow deputies from Duran, but the other officers contradicted Koehler's statements.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing there were surveillance cameras or this inmate would never have had a chance of contradicting the officer's statement! PM