15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

Marvin Booker. More photos below.
Marvin Booker. More photos below.

More than three years after the filing of an excessive-force lawsuit on behalf of Marvin Booker, who died in Denver jail, the Denver City Council voted last night to pay Booker's family $6 million.

This incident is hardly an isolated one. The original suit documents a slew of local law-enforcement brutality complaints, with the vast majority of them ending in settlements. There are so many cases, in fact, that it's going to take us two posts to share them all. Look below to see the first fifteen, featuring photos and text from the complaint.

See also: Marvin Booker Lawsuit to Establish Pattern of Police Brutality, Attorney Says, published in February 2011

In 2008, the City of Denver and Denver Health paid a combined $7 million to the family of Emily Rae Rice, who had died while in custody of the Denver Sheriff's Department. Ms. Rice had alleged that the City's treatment of her after she was detained violated her constitutional rights leading directly to her death. It was alleged that the City had destroyed or otherwise tampered with video and other evidence, and had engaged in a cover-up of the wrongdoing. After initially denying any liability on any of the claims, the Defendants paid $7 million and agreed to many policy changes. Defendant Faun Gomez was a Defendant in both the present case and the case brought on behalf of Emily Rice. Upon information and belief, Defendant Gomez received no disciplinary action for her role in either the death of Emily Rice or the death of Marvin Booker.

Also in 2008, Denver paid $150,000 to Timothy Thomason, who was deprived of medical care while in the city jail. Mr. Thomason was arrested on charges of cultivating marijuana. While being transported to jail, he informed the officers that he was suffering from terminal Stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that he was taking massive amounts of pain killers and anxiety medications. The officers assured him that they would bring his medications to the jail. Once he arrived at the Pre-Arraignment Detention Facility, however, his repeated pleas for medication were ignored. A judge ordered his release, but he was forced to spend several more hours in jail, without his medication, until he suffered a seizure, banging his head on the cement floor of his cell. Mr. Thomason alleged that his treatment by the Denver Sheriff's Department violated his constitutional rights.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

In 2004, Denver paid the family of Paul Childs $1.32 million to settle a lawsuit brought after Mr. Childs, a developmentally disabled 15-year-old boy, was fatally shot by Denver Police Officer James Turney. Officer Turney responded to a 911 call from Mr. Childs' sister, and when he arrived at the house, Mr. Childs was holding a knife. When Mr. Childs refused to drop the knife, Officer Turney shot and killed him. Two other officers were in the house with non-lethal tasers, which were not used. Mr. Childs' mother informed officers that he was a "special needs" child, but they nonetheless shot him from the front door while he was standing in the hallway. Continue to read more incidents of alleged Denver police brutality as featured in the Marvin Booker lawsuit.  

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

In 2004, Denver paid Terrill Johnson $75,000 to settle a lawsuit against the City, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, and Denver Police Officers Troy Ortego, Louis A. Estrada, Perry Speelman, Richard Eberharter, Randy Yoder and Danny Perez. Mr. Johnson alleged that as he was driving home from his job at Denver International Airport, he noticed he was being followed closely by a Denver Police patrol car. The officers in the car followed him to his residence. He went into his home, and when he went back outside to take out the garbage, the officers, still in their patrol car, were shining a spotlight into his car, which he had parked in front of the house. As the officers reversed the patrol car, they slammed into Mr. Johnson's wife's car. Mr. Johnson approached his wife's car to inspect the damage, and the officers exited the patrol car with their weapons drawn. They instructed Mr. Johnson, who was not armed, to throw down his weapon. Additional officers arrived at the scene, continuing to instruct Mr. Johnson to drop his weapon. He removed his shirt and raised his hands into the air to show the officers that he was not armed. The officers then rushed toward Mr. Johnson, slammed him onto a patrol car, punched him, forcibly subdued him while handcuffing him, and threw him into the patrol car, using racial slurs the entire time. Mr. Johnson was charged with two minor traffic offenses and interference; all charges against him were dropped.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On February 25, 2004, Regina Keith filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Gregory Lee Smith, Jr. against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, Denver Police Officers Robert Silvas and Jim Turney, and unknown John Doe officers. Ms. Keith, Mr. Smith's mother, alleged that the officers arrived at her home after she called 911 for assistance with a domestic dispute. When they arrived, Mr. Smith was in his bedroom. Mr. Smith then exited his bedroom with a three-inch utility knife. The officers ordered him to drop the knife, and when he didn't, they fatally shot him. Upon information and belief, the individual officers settled the case for an unknown amount.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On December 6, 2004, Richard Rra-Shada filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Officers Dennis Bedenbender and Shanna Michael, and Robert A. Kaser. Mr. Rra-Shada alleged that Officer Bedenbender struck him with his police vehicle. When Mr. Rra-Shada responded with a profanity, Officer Bedenbender got out of his police vehicle, approached Mr. Rra-Shada, and clipped his legs from underneath him, causing him to fall head-first onto the pavement. Officer Michael then hit Mr. Rra-Shada with her nightstick and kicked him repeatedly in his torso. At the same time, Officer Bedenbender was punching Mr. Rra-Shada in the head with closed fists. Mr. Rra-Shada's injuries included head and brain trauma, as well as injuries to his shoulder, wrist, back, ribcage and abdomen. He also began suffering seizures after the incident. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount. Continue to read more incidents of alleged Denver police brutality as featured in the Marvin Booker lawsuit.  

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On July 1, 2005, Jeffrey R. Mayton filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Josh E. Valerio, Gerard Alarcon and Robert J. Wycoff. Mr. Mayton alleged that he was wrongfully arrested, and that during his arrest, the officers ignored his complaints that he was ill. When Mr. Mayton began to struggle due to physical discomfort from his illness, the officers used excessive force against him, resulting in a dislocated shoulder, abrasions and bruising. Because the officers ignored Mr. Mayton's complaints about his illness, he defecated in his clothing and was forced to remain sitting and lying on the ground in pain until transport arrived. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On August 5, 2005, Quincy Michael Shannon filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Denver Police Officers Thomas McKibben and Chan Thanong. Mr. Shannon alleged that, while he and three friends were waiting in their car in a parking lot, they were approached by an officer who told them they had to move their car. Another officer then approached the car and told them to move. The driver attempted to move the car, but the parking lot was full of cars. A third officer then approached the car and sprayed mace or pepper spray into the driver's face. The driver tried again to move the car, but was unable to. Another officer then approached and sprayed the other occupants of the car with mace or pepper spray. All of the passengers then exited the car, which was filling up with fumes from the spray. Mr. Shannon asked Officer McKibben how they were supposed to move the vehicle when the parking lot was full, and in response Officer McKibben sprayed him in the face again. Mr. Shannon then walked away and dialed 911 to report the incident. Officer McKibben overheard Mr. Shannon describing him on the phone and sprayed him again. When Mr. Shannon turned away, Officer McKibben grabbed Mr. Shannon's arm and bent it behind him. Officer McKibben then kicked Mr. Shannon's feet out from under him and shoved his face onto the pavement. Officer McKibben then grabbed both of Mr. Shannon's arms and one leg, handcuffing his hands behind his back over his ankle. Officers McKibben and Officer Thanong then picked Mr. Shannon up and sprayed him in the face again. Mr. Shannon suffered cuts and scrapes to his face, resulting in a permanent scar. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On March 31, 2002, Mary Milham was at a Denver bar called Sing Sing, located in the LoDo section of downtown Denver. As Ms. Milham was leaving she made a remark about a particularly obnoxious bouncer to her brother. While taking to her brother, she was confronted with off-duty Denver Police Officers in police uniforms, one being Defendant Danny Perez, #95032. Ms. Milham was not being violent or threatening in any way when one of the officers grabbed Ms. Milham's wrist and applied a "low profile twist lock" on her and snapped her humerus like a twig while propelling her into a brick wall. The brutal assault caused extensive injuries to Ms. Milham as well as significant physical and psychological trauma. These officers then proceeded to file false charges against her knowing that she had committed no offense. All charges against Ms. Milham were dismissed in Denver County Court on August 14, 2002. A jury in federal court found Perez to be liable to Milham for violating her constitutional rights and using excessive force and damages were awarded. Despite this finding, Denver took no disciplinary action against Perez. Continue to read more incidents of alleged Denver police brutality as featured in the Marvin Booker lawsuit.  

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On November 21, 2005, David Nettles filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, and Denver Police Officers Carlette Havard, Michael Nuanes, Jr., Damian Naranjo, and Zachary Phillips. Mr. Nettles alleged that the offices, while responding to a domestic violence call across the street from Mr. Nettles' house, decided to apprehend Mr. Nettles. In effectuating the unlawful arrest of Mr. Nettles, one of the officers began punching him in the ribs, while another used nunchucks on Mr. Nettles' ankle, causing him to fall to the ground. While Mr. Nettles was on the ground, another officers kicked him in the head at least three times. One or more officers jumped onto Mr. Nettles' back, yelling, "When we give you an order, you obey it!" another officer began punching Mr. Nettles in the back of the head, yelling, "You did it to your own damn self!" While the officers were attempting to handcuff Mr. Nettles' hands behind his back, he heard his shoulder snap. After he was handcuffed, the officers continued hitting him in the head and kicking him in the back. Mr. Nettles' injuries included a severe shoulder injury and bruising to his ribs, arms, left elbow and knees. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.

Frank Lobato.
Frank Lobato.

On January 6, 2006, Francisco Juan Lobato, Anthony Lobato, Barbara Lobato and Ramona Lobato filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Frank Lobato against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman and Denver Police Officers Ranjan Ford Jr., Joshua Herrick, Gene Sharla, Robert Shiller, Charles Kyle, Steven Addison and unidentified John and Jane Doe officers. The Lobatos alleged that the Defendant Officers entered the Lobato home without a warrant looking for a suspect. Frank Lobato was sleeping in his bed at the time the officers entered the home. When the officers were unable to locate the suspect, they entered Mr. Lobato's bedroom and shot and killed him. Denver paid $900,000 in 2007 to settle the lawsuit.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On April 3, 2006, Hirut Berhanmeskel filed a lawsuit against he City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officer Gilberto Romero. Ms. Berhanmeskel alleged tha, while she was attempting to resolve a parking ticket dispute at the Denver Parking Ticket Referee's office, she was approached by Officer Romero. Officer Romero, apparently upset that Ms. Berhanmeskel was crying about her inability to resolve her parking ticket issue, grabbed Ms. Berhanmeskel's arm violently and roughly twisted it behind her back. He slammed her against the wall and handcuffed her without even warning her that he was placing her under arrest. Ms. Berhanmeskel suffered a broken wrist as a result of the excessive force used by Officer Romero. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount. Continue to read more incidents of alleged Denver police brutality as featured in the Marvin Booker lawsuit.  

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On August 11, 2006, Chandler Lyles filed a lawsuit against he City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officer Ryan Bruke. Mr. Lyles alleged that Officer Bruke came to his home to investigate a claim that Mr. Lyles' mother was suicidal. Officer Burke ordered Mr. Lyles to sit on a sofa in the living room, and Mr. Lyles complied. Then, without provocation or warning, Officer Burke tackled Mr. Lyles, forcing him to the ground and handcuffing him. As a result of the excessive force used by Officer Burke. Mr. Lyles suffered injures that included a broken right clavicle. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

In 2007, Amy Shroff sued the City of Denver and Officer Frank Spellman for violating her rights protected by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Officer Spellman illegally arrested Ms. Shroff after she had complained to the police about her former husband's presence at a bar immediately before he was to have visitation rights with their young child under a custody arrangement that provided for her to drop the child off at the Denver Police station for pick-up by the former husband. Officer Spellman arrested Ms. Shroff allegedly for violating a restraining order, even though the order clearly restrained the husband from coming near her, not the other way around. The district court rejected Spellman's effort to have the case dismissed on summary judgment, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Spellman's conduct, as alleged, would violate the clearly established rights of Ms. Shroff to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Defendants settled the case before trial in 2010 for a payment of $175,000 to Ms. Shroff.

15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit

On June 12, 2007, Rose Edward Smith filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Jarrod Tinnin and Mark Sutton. Mr. Smith alleged that while he was walking down the 16th Street Mall as part of a protest against the Iraq war, he was approached by Officer Tinnin. Officer Tinnin had dismounted his motorcycle and walked up to Mr. Smith and punched him in the face with a closed fist, throwing him to the pavement. Officer Sutton then joined Officer Tinnin in tackling and beating Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was charged with interference, but all charges against him were dropped. As a result of the excessive force used against him, Mr. Smith suffered injuries and abrasions to his face, arms, hands, neck and back, and aggravation of his Parkinson's Disease, causing severe and uncontrollable tremors. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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