Last night, Denver's police force settlements spilled over $1 million in payouts from the city this year alone.
Denver's city council voted unanimously on Monday to settle two excessive force lawsuits for $80,000.
In 2008, Brighton volunteer firefighter Jared Lunn was heckled and then punched by another man while carrying a pizza to his car. When he spotted Officer Eric Sellers, he asked the officer for help but Sellers allegedly refused. When Lunn made a sarcastic comment, Sellers placed him in a chokehold on the ground, handcuffed him and reportedly wouldn't let him leave until he'd apologized. After a 40-day suspension, Sellers resigned and the Denver City Council settled his case for $45,000.
Two years later in a separate case, Denver Police were caught on videotape in the shocking beating of Mark Ashford. Ashford had been walking his dogs when he saw police pull someone over for running a stop sign, and he offered to testify that the driver had stopped. Officers John Diaz and Jeff Cook then came over, when they detained and beat him.
"They punched him and pinned him up against the fence and forced his head into the concrete," Ashford's attorney, Will Hart said.
The Denver Post reports that Diaz retired before the case reached its conclusion and Cook did not face punishment for excessive force. Ashford reportedly settled for $35,000.
Videos are available below depicting incidents of Denver Police brutality that have either produced firings within the department or been settled this year.
Though the Denver coroner's office ruled Booker's July 9, 2010 death a homicide, the five officers who used excessive force on the 56-year-old--including a sleeper hold and Taser gun--Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey decided not to press charges against the five sheriff's deputies in May of this year. The video of Booker's death was released on the same day the DA decided not to punish deputies. In turn, the decision not to discipline quickly prompted a call for an investigation of the Denver Police Department from the ACLU by the Department of Justice.
In 2009, Michael DeHerrera and partner Shawn Johnson suffered police brutality in Lodo that caught Herrera being beaten on tape while he was attempting to make a phone call to his father, a Pueblo sheriff's deputy. Last year DeHerrera settled for $17,500 and told Good Morning America that his goal in filing the suit was to "get some kind of reaction from the DA and from the Denver Police Department that excessive force was used." Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr were not fired until March 25 of this year.
Mark Ashford was beaten by Denver Police in 2010, and settled for $35,000 yesterday.
In this video by Westword, Alexander Landau is filmed talking about his experience with police brutality. In 2009, then 19-year-old Landau was pulled over for making an illegal lefthand turn. In the police report, Officers Randy Murr (the same officer in the DeHerrera incident), Ricky Nixon (the same officer in the Denver diner incident and the 2006 death of Jimmy Orozco) and Tracy Middleton say they found marijuana in Landau's car. They then proceeded to punch and beat him while shouting racial epithets. He was treated for a broken nose and lacerations to his head. Landau settled for the second largest payout in Denver's history, $795,000. Officers Nixon and Murr were fired in April of this year.
Officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine were fired by Manager of Safety Charles Garcia this year in April, who were caught on HALO cameras macing a woman in the face and billy-clubbing other women at a Denver diner. The officers were fired for "Commission of a Deceptive Act," but were reinstated by a Civil Service Commission panel Jan. 14, 2012 with back pay and full benefits due citing inconsistent accounts of the incident on all sides.
Denver Detective Jay Estrada was fired this year after serving with the DPD for 11 years, for the hit-and-run of Laurie Gorham who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time. Gorham lost the baby and Estrada lied to superiors about the hit-and-run, didn't properly follow up, and lead Denver Police to search for the vehicle responsible offering an initial cash reward of $2,000.
Protestors took to Denver's streets to speak out against Denver Police use of excessive force, in response to the death of homeless street preacher Marvin Booker.