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.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Denver officials clash over police discipline after brutal video released - The Denver Post

Denver officials clash over police discipline after brutal video released - The Denver Post

Denver officials are deeply divided over the proper level of punishment for a police officer who was seen on video tackling and beating a 23-year-old man who was doing nothing but talking on a telephone outside a LoDo nightclub.

The video of Officer Devin Sparks repeatedly hitting Michael DeHerrera of Denver with a department-issued piece of metal wrapped in leather, picking him up roughly and slamming a car door on his ankle has prompted Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal to push for the firing of Sparks and Corporal Randy Murr.

Rosenthal, who monitors police internal investigations, maintains Sparks and Murr are unfit for the force because they didn't tell the truth about the April 4, 2009 incident. Rosenthal also believes the use of force by Sparks was excessive. The Denver City Council earlier this year agreed to pay $17,500 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by DeHerrera alleging excessive force.

DeHerrera, in interviews, has described police as beating him unconscious. He said he woke up in a hospital bed, with stitches in his head, and a swollen head. He said he later was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.

"The video was so important because it showed everything that happened, regardless of reports or what's filled out," DeHerrera said in an interview. "The video speaks more than any of those words can."

He added: "I don't swing. I don't blade. I'm on the phone. The only thing I hold onto is my phone. When I go down, I'm out, and that's when he continues to 'get my compliance.'"

The incident was filmed by the police department's own High Activity Location Observation video surveillance system. Video released to the news media by the department shows DeHerrera doing nothing but talking on his phone with his father, a sheriff's deputy in Pueblo.

Rosenthal, in a report to be released on Monday, labels as "pure fiction" the police report from Sparks that describes his force as justified because DeHerrera "spun to his left attempting to strike me in the face with a closed right fist."

Safety Manager Ron Perea, who oversees the police department and has final say on discipline, has rejected Rosenthal's argument that the officers should be fired. He suspended Murr without pay for three days for submitting an "inaccurate report." Sparks also lost three days pay.

"The video, when viewed in isolation, seems to portray the subject officers as overly aggressive for the situation," Perea said. "There is no audio and it appears that there is a man on the phone ignoring but not being overtly aggressive towards the officer when the officer takes him down. The video, however, does not tell the entire story."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sincerely believe these abuses by those in *positions of trust* are far more common than what is in this article. This is completely unacceptable, and I hope this young man sues. He will win.

The same occurences happen in so-called *correctional* facilities. CO's (prison guards) are given permission to violate and fabricate against prisoners. For those of you who wonder why I use the terms prisoner and prison guards, that is exactly what they are. Inmate and correctional officer are terms concocted by the DOC to make it sound softer. It isn't.

In attempts to get a video review of an occurence at a CCA prison due to 2 different statements from a prison guard, the request was denied. OF COURSE, a 'review' by a PPMU staff member found in favor of the prison guard. Two different statements from a prisoner would constitute fraud. Double standards are quite common in prisons. A video review would have revealed the deception on the part of the prison guard, but that would not fit into CCA's agenda. This is what our family members in prison must tolerate day by day. Meanwhile, the prison guards know they can selectively target and lack of integrity is of no consequence to PPMU (private prisons monitoring unit). PPMU doesn't monitor anything except what is in their favor; and they make certain it is always in their favor - unless legal action is taken.

Told to us by another guard concerning our son: "I'm out to get _______. _______ is under my radar."

Meanwhile, this practice of targeting, lying and getting away with fraud is acceptable by upper level staff at CDOC.