Five Denver, Colorado sheriff’s deputies won’t be disciplined for their involvement in the death of a street preacher at Denver’s jail, even though the coroner ruled it a homicide.
Safety Manager Charles Garcia says an investigation concluded that the deputies didn’t violate the department’s use-of-force policy or any other department rules related to use of force in the death of 56-year-old Marvin Booker.
“After a thorough review of the investigation and after considering the recommendations of the city’s Independent Monitor, this office concludes that the deputies did not violate the department’s use-of-force policies or any other department rules related to use of force,” Garcia said. “Therefore, no disciplinary sanctions will be ordered.”
There are claims from the family of Booker that sheriff’s officials covered up details of his death on July 9, 2010.
On Monday, police released a 40-page report regarding Booker’s death and the surveillance video of the incident.
Booker died after deputies tried to subdue him by getting on top of him, placing him in a “sleeper” hold and shocking him with a stun gun.
An attorney for the family says the 5-foot-5, 135-pound Booker had 1,000 pounds of law enforcement on top of him.
The deputies believe Booker was alive when they put him in a holding cell, but cannot say for certain.
Denver Police had arrested Booker eight hours prior to the incident inside the jail on an outstanding warrant related to a drug paraphernalia possession case.
“I want to assure the community that the manager’s office and sheriff’s department have been thorough, just and accountable in their review,” Denver Mayor Bill Vidal said. “My heart goes out to the friends and family of Mr. Booker, and my sincerest hope is that we can move forward better and stronger, with meaningful change implemented at the sheriff’s department. One of my goals as mayor is to resolve as many outstanding cases as possible so that closure can come to all involved. With each case resolved, the lessons that are learned become part of the critical transformation within each department.”
Booker’s brother watched the surveillance video of the altercation before police showed it to the media.
Spencer Booker arrived in Colorado from out-of-state early Monday morning in order to view the tape.
After the viewing, he said he was disappointed with the decision to clear the deputies.
“I just know he was under a pile of officers. I’m frustrated that intelligent men of the law would say nothing happened…. How can you clear five officers who have initiated a violent attack?” he said.
Booker’s family has filed a lawsuit in response to the original ruling that the use of force was unjustified.
“We are appalled by Monday’s decision,” Booker family attorney Mari Newman said. “It is absolutely evident that these deputies used excessive force on this small man, and there was no need to attack him as they did.”
“The investigation into the death of Mr. Booker was one of the most comprehensive investigations of a critical incident conducted by the Department of Safety in the six and a half years since I began monitoring such investigations,” Richard Rosenthal from Office of the Independent Monitor said. “The Monitor’s Office actively monitored this case from beginning to end. We rolled out shortly after the incident and sat in on Homicide Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau interviews. I concluded that the investigation was thorough and complete and the findings made by Manager Garcia were reasonable and appropriate.”
The Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance is calling for a federal civil rights investigation and is asking the Justice Department to investigate.
“He was not armed, he was not a terrible threat, he only wanted to get his shoes, yes, we’re terribly disappointed and we’re going to call for a major investigation,” Rev. Dr. James D. Peters, member of GMDMA, said.