The two Denver Police officers -- Devin Sparks and Randy Murr -- who were fired in March for lying in an excessive force case and were reinstated in September will now remain off the police force while the city appeals the reinstatement, according to The Associated Press.
9News reports that the Denver Civil Service Commission sided with the city on Tuesday and postponed the reinstatement of both Sparks and Murr. The two officers will not get their jobs back with back-pay, seniority or any other lost benefits during the appeal process.
The firings stem from an incident that occurred on the night of April 4, 2009 when Michael DeHerrera and his friend Shawn Johnson, were kicked out of a LoDo bar, The Denver Post reported. As Johnson was being arrested, lying in the street, DeHerrera was talking on his phone. Then, apparently without provocation, Officer Sparks grabbed DeHerrera and repeatedly struck him with a piece of metal wrapped in leather. However, the police report reflected an entirely different story -- which Police Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal called “pure fiction” -- one where Sparks claimed DeHerrera tried to attack Sparks so the level of force used was seemingly justified (watch the video of the beating at the top of the story).
Fox31 reported that Charles Garcia, Denver's former manager of safety, fired the two officers when they both lied about the beating in their police reports. But in a case filled with controversy, a panel of civil service officers added more in September by reversing Garcia's decision on grounds that the two officers had already been punished by Garcia's predecessor Ron Perea and could not be punished again as the time limits for appeals had already passed, according to 9News.
Beating victim DeHerrera, expressing his disappointment in the reinstatement of the two officers in September, said to 9News:
It was finally clear what was right and what was wrong and everybody agreed that they were wrong. So now to put that back up into the air is just ridiculous.
7News spoke with Nick Rogers, President of the police officers union said that the firings were based on "political outcry," suggesting that the two officers never deserved to be fired as a form of punishment. Rogers went on to say that the two officers were "as happy as a person can be” with the September reinstatement decision.
But that has all changed as of Tuesday. The Civil Service Commission decision said that the Perea did not have the authority to overturn Garcia's firing of Sparks and Murr and that the September reinstatement was based on at technicality, not the merits of the case against the two fired officers, according to The Denver Post.