Denver Police Department Fights Efforts to Fire Officer Who Is Shown Attacking Man Speaking on a Cell Phone

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

50 thoughts on “Denver Police Department Fights Efforts to Fire Officer Who Is Shown Attacking Man Speaking on a Cell Phone”

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  2. Please note any of the above Officer James Turney comments are ridiculous and clearly from uneducated people. Although the media only released initial reprimands of Officer Turney, it was very soon after that a much (almost a year) longer suspension without pay was put into place. Most media outlets have failed to apparently release what his actual punishment was. Within the department, he received strong support that his actions at the time were in line with protocol.

    To have anyone point out that the victim is black is again also ridiculous. Although it was true that the victim was a minority, the same can be said for Officer Turney. He is a man of strong morals and would only have made a decision like that if his or anyone’s life was in danger. He is an amazing family man that has paid the price for his actions, keeping in mind that his actions were decidedly justified and correct per direction from the Denver Police. Does society forget that their comments posted publicly may have an effect on other people? Their children? Their wife’s? He is not stationed to patrol our streets today, but I sure wish a man Officer James Turney would.

  3. I saw a very interesting and very reasonable post recently online with regard to police officers vs. citizens violence.

    Laws have been passed in various locations that provide for an “enhanced” criminal sentence when an assault occurs against a police officer. The purpose, of course, is to make people think twice about attacking a cop.

    Now, the post I just read suggested an excellent idea.

    The police should suffer the same “enhanced” criminal sentence when they are convicted of a criminal act against a citizen without justification.

    After all, cops usually are borderline thugs before they even get the job. Its just a fact of life. They might not look it, but they are in their heart or they wouldn’t be able to club people, etc., without feeling remorse each and every time.

    Additionally, cops are trained for street scuffles / fighting. AND, they have their weapons including pepper spray, club, gun, and maybe other weapons I don’t know of.

    With all that gear, there isn’t any reason why a cop should attack a citizen as we see in these Denver, Colorado videos. NO excuse.

    So, ask yourself. Why should a cop, with all his training and gear, not be held accountable with a stiffer penalty that simple assault when he hides behind his badge and threatens or assaults innocent citizens?????

    Answer: cops should not get away with a simple criminal sentence. They should get the “enhanced” sentence for the same reason it is applied to citizens attacking cops. Cops need to be taught severe consequences when they abuse the citizenry. Otherwise, their badge is a license to physically abuse use.

  4. Buckeye’s link includes “The police department recently opened an internal investigation, after which the FBI said it would continue with its own probe.”

    I doubt the FBI will do anything at all. DOJ’s police, the USMS, used summary procedure to incarcerate me for 5 months without filing a criminal complaint or an arraignment. The FBI’s own website includes”

    “False arrest and fabrication of evidence: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right against unreasonable searches or seizures. A law enforcement official using authority provided under the color of law is allowed to stop individuals and, under
    certain circumstances, to search them and retain their property. It is in the abuse of that discretionary power—such as an unlawful detention or illegal confiscation of property— that a violation of a person’s civil rights may occur. Fabricating evidence against or falsely arresting an individual also violates the color of law statute, taking away the person’s rights of due process and unreasonable seizure. In the case of deprivation of property, the color of law statute would be violated by unlawfully obtaining or maintaining a person’s property, which oversteps or misapplies the official’s authority.
    The Fourteenth Amendment secures the right to due process; the Eighth Amendment prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment. During an arrest or detention, these rights can be violated by the use of force amounting to punishment (summary judgment).
    The person accused of a crime must be allowed the opportunity to have a trial and should not be subjected to punishment without having been afforded the opportunity of the legal process.”

    I quoted and linked to that and sent a complaint to
    Assistant Attorney General
    Civil Rights Division Criminal Section
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
    Washington, DC 20530
    Priority mail 420 20530 9405 5036 9930 0255 5153 03

    and DOJ wrote back essentially that they won’t do anything to prosecute the parties who essentially repeatedly kidnapped and assaulted me under color of law. It’s not the law that’s important, it seems to be who you know and who you pay.

  5. 6061 Southeastern Center for Police Law and Liability Management – Use of Force
    This 20-minute video, produced by the Southeastern Center for Police Law and Liability Management, features Randy Means discussing the three key steps in minimizing use of force claims.
    Assuring the legal validity of core transactions
    Maintaining proportionality
    Not poisoning your case with bad or unnecessary facts

    6079 Alert – The Use of Force – Part I – The Keys to Lawful Use
    This 30-minute video defines the “three keys” of lawful use of force. Definitions are given for: deadly force, non-deadly force, “reasonably necessary,” passive and active resistance behavior, assaulting behavior, and others. Concepts such as “proportionately” are explained. The proper, legal force continuum is discussed. The program helps the viewer understand the impact that an unlawful “core” transaction has on the legality of all subsequent force and to recognize that factors other than the actual force can affect perceptions and eyewitness accounts. This video should help maximize law enforcement effectiveness and minimize exposure to legal and liability risk.

    Cortez Colorado

  6. BIL,

    Considering the the alternatives are a crazy racist, or someone who thinks that bicycle lanes are part of the U.N. plot to form a one world government, he’s looking better and better for the Governor.

    Plus his reaction to the Republican Primary was classic, which was something like “I’m not paying attention to the GOP right now.”

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