There is a controversy in Denver over the handling of a police camera and the appropriate punishment of an officer shown beating two men. The incident was caught on Denver’s High Activity Location Observation video surveillance (H.A.L.O) system.
Denver’s Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal has clashed with the Denver Police over whether the officer should be fired. The Denver Police insist that an officer simply had a clumsy “arm bar take down” and that, when the camera inexplicably pans away at the critical point in the confrontation, there was no effort to cover up the abuse of the suspect. Michael DeHerrera, 24, who is shown talking on his phone with his father (a sheriff’s deputy in Pueblo), is suddenly thrown to the ground by the officer. His friend, Shawn Johnson, 25, was already being arrested when the camera then shows Officer Devin Sparks suddenly grab DeHerrera and throw him to the ground — that is when the camera suddenly pans away. When the camera pans back, you can see officers hitting DeHerrera.
The city settled with DeHerrera and Johnson for a surprisingly small amount: $15,500,
After the incident, the officer piled on a long list of charges against Johnson and DeHerrera — all of which were later dropped.
Officer Randy Murr was suspended for three days without pay for violating a provision requiring truthful and accurate information in police reports, and Sparks fined 24 hours for the same violation. Once again, I am surprised by the light punishment given for failing to provide truthful information on a police report — entirely separate from the issue of the beating.
Reviewing the tape, I fail to see the arguable defense for the officer. The department says that the suspect shoved officers and they may have been afraid that he might shove them again. That hardly justifies this level of force, in my view.
To watch the video, click here.
Previously, Denver officers were acquitted by a jury in a case with an equally disturbing video, here.
Source: Denver Channel