Yesterday, in the wake of the $6 million settlement over Marvin Booker's Denver jail death, we shared fifteen other law-enforcement brutality cases as detailed in the Booker family lawsuit -- and noted that there were a lot more beyond them. As proof, here's part two: eighteen more excessive-force cases in Denver that resulted in settlements, many of them very large. Included are photos, a number of which may disturb some readers, and text from the suit. See them below.
On June 27, 2007, Grace Arlene Mosley filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Martin Martinez, Jose Hurtado and unknown John Doe officers. Ms. Mosley alleged that she was unlawfully arrested and forcefully pulled out of her home by the officers. As a result of the excessive force against her, she suffered physical pain and emotional trauma. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.
In 2008, Denver paid $885,000 to settle a lawsuit brought in response to an incident in which Denver Police Officers Charles Porter, Luis Rivera and Cameron Moerman used excessive force against Juan Vasquez, a 16-year-old boy. Mr. Vasquez was severely injured with a lacerated liver and broken ribs after one of the officers used a fence as leverage to jump up and down on the boy's back while he lay prone on the pavement.
In January 2009, Denver paid $100,000 to Trudy Trout to settle a lawsuit that arose out of Denver Police Officer Nicholas Rocco-McKee's use of excessive force. Officer Rocco-McKee shoved Ms. Trout to the ground, causing her to break her wrist. Despite the fact that the encounter was caught on video, Officer Rocco-McKee lied on his report, stating that Ms. Trout tripped over her own high-heeled shoes, which she was not wearing. Upon information and belief, Officer Rocco-McKee was not disciplined for the use of force or for lying on his report. Continue for more about Denver brutality incidents from the Marvin Booker lawsuit. Warning: A number of the photos that follow may disturb some readers.
On May 4, 2009, Jason Anthony Graber filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Miller, Davis and two other unknown John Doe officers. Mr. Graber alleged that, as he was crossing the 16th Street Mall at Market Street, a police officer in a marked car yelled out his window, "Dumbass!" The police car then pulled up next to Mr. Graber, his brother and his wife and asked if they needed assistance. Mr. Graber responded that they did not need assistance, but that he did not appreciate being called a dumbass. The officers then exited their vehicle and one of them tackled Mr. Graber from behind. He was grabbed by the neck and his legs were kicked out from under him. He fell down, slamming his knee and elbow onto the concrete. Mr. Graber was arrested for public intoxication, but a breathalyzer showed a blood alcohol content of 0.036, well below the legal limit, and he was relased. X-rays to Mr. Graber's leg slowed lipohemathrosis and a possible hairline fracture. Mr. Graber remained in a leg brace for many months after the incident. (In September 2011, the Denver City Council voted to give Graber a $225,000 settlement over the incident.)
On May 15, 2009, Altagracia Medina Valencia filed a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman, and eight unknown John Doe Denver Police officers. Ms. Valencia alleged that, while her husband, Odiceo Valencia-Lopez, was attending his daughter's communion, he suffered a self-inflicted knife wound to the wrist. When his family called for an ambulance, the call was routed to Denver Police. Eight officers arrived on the scene. Mr. Valencia-Lopez was standing by his vehicle with the knife in his hand when he was surrounded by six to eight officers with their weapons drawn. The officers ordered Mr. Valencia-Lopez to drop the knife, but due to his lack of understanding of English, and intoxication, he did not understand their commands. An officer then tased Mr. Valencia-Lopez, causing him to drop the knife. After Mr. Valencia-Lopez was tased and dropped the knife, the other officers began shooting him. He was shot approximately seven times, in front of his entire family. He died at the scene. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.
On October 16, 2009, Wayne C. Rose filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald R. Whitman, Detective Mark S. Woodward and unidentified John Doe police officers. Mr. Rose alleged that, while fleeing police unarmed, he was knocked to the ground by an officer on foot and then run over by an officer on a police motorcycle. The impact of the motorcycle knocked Mr. Rose unconscious, and Detective Woodward then handcuffed Mr. Rose's hands behind his back. Detective Woodward then picked Mr. Rose up by his arms and dropped him onto the pavement two or three times, causing his face and body to strike the pavement several times. Officer Woodward and the unidentified John Doe officers then beat and kicked Mr. Rose repeatedly. Mr. Rose's injuries resulting from the officers' use of excessive force included a broken arm that required multiple surgeries. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount. Continue for more about Denver brutality incidents from the Marvin Booker lawsuit. Warning: A number of the photos that follow may disturb some readers.
On June 30, 2009, James R. Watkins filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers John Ruddy and Randy Penn. Mr. Watkins alleged when he noticed he was being followed by the officers, he reached for his cell phone while asking them if they were going to beat him up. The officers responded by lunging toward Mr. Watkins and hitting him in the face with their closed fists and elbows. They continued beating him after he was on the ground and under police control. Mr. Watkins had to be taken by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center because he was bleeding profusely as a result of the officers' use of excessive force. He was initially charged with Assault in the Second Degree, but all charges against him were dropped. Denver paid Mr. Watkins $20,000 to settle the lawsuit.
On June 30, 2009, Michael DeHerrera filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Devin Sparks, A. Jaramilo and R. Murr. Mr. DeHerrera alleged that, while he was using his cell phone to inform his father, a Pueblo police officer, that the Denver Police Officers were assaulting his friend, the officers assaulted him. Officer sparks used an arm bar takedown to force Mr. DeHerrera face first onto the sidewalk. Once Mr. DeHerrera was on the ground, Officer Sparks used a sap impact weapon repeatedly on Mr. DeHerrera's body, and other officers struck him in the face multiple times. Mr. DeHerrera had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, and his injuries included head trauma and facial contusions. This incident was captured on video. Despite the aggravated circumstances, the officers were only very lightly disciplined. (The case "resulted in a $17,500 settlement.")
On June 30, 2009, Shawn Kyeone Johnson filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Police Officers Devin Sparks, A. Jaramilo and R. Murr. Mr. Johnson was involved in the altercation with Denver police that resulted in Mr. DeHerrera's lawsuit. Mr. Johnson alleged that, as he was being assaulted by a club bouncer, three Denver police officers joined in the assault, striking him in the face with elbows and closed fists even after he was under police control. Mr. Johnson suffered severe injuries, including head trauma and facial contusions, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. In August 2010, Denver settled the case for $15,500. Continue for more about Denver brutality incidents from the Marvin Booker lawsuit. Warning: A number of the photos that follow may disturb some readers.
On August 10, 2009, Danvis Smith filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, Denver Manager of Safety Alvin LaCabe and Denver Police Officer Joseph P. Flynn. Mr. Smith alleged that he was involved in an altercation with Officer Flynn, who was working on foot in the Denver International Airport parking garage. Officer Flynn reached through the driver's side window and struck Mr. Smith in the mouth with his elbow. Officer Flynn then pulled Mr. Smith out of the car by his right arm and handcuffed Mr. Smith in an awkward position, with his arms lifted high in the air beyond the normal range of motion. Mr. Smith was charged with assault, but all charges against him were subsequently dropped. Mr. Smith's injuries included a torn rotator cuff, a torn biceps tendon and chronic back pain. Upon information and belief, the case was settled for an unknown amount.
In September 2009, Denver settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $225,000 to the family of Alberto Romero, who died after being repeatedly tasered and beaten with impact weapons by police when he was arrested wearing only boxer shorts. Before he died. Mr. Romero suffered eight broken ribs and had his tongue split open from the use of excessive force.
On December 29, 2009, Vicki Lynn Trujillo filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Estate of Jason Gomez against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, and Denver Police Officer Timothy Campbell. Ms. Trujillo alleged that Officer Campbell began pursuing Mr. Gomez without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. When Officer Campbell confronted Mr. Gomez, he ordered Mr. Gomez to kneel on the ground and pointed his gun at him. Officer Campbell repeatedly shouted that he was going to kill Mr. Gomez. When Mr. Gomez, who was unarmed, stood up and began running from Officer Campbell, Officer Campbell shot him in the back. The bullet perforated Mr. Gomez's spinal column. Officer Campbell then fired a second round of shots, hitting Mr. Gomez twice in the chest, once in the abdomen, once in the right thigh, and once in the left knee. Mr. Gomez died from multiple gunshot wounds. (The case was settled in December 2012 for $190,000.) Continue for more about Denver brutality incidents from the Marvin Booker lawsuit. Warning: A number of the photos that follow may disturb some readers.
In May 2010, Denver settled a lawsuit filed by Eric Winfield for $40,000. Mr. Winfield alleged that he was severely beaten by Denver Police Officers Antonio Milow, Thomas Johnston and Glen Martin while he was making his way through LoDo crowds after a 2007 World Series game. Mr. Winfield's injuries included chipped teeth, permanent scars and nerve damage in his hands.
On July 1, 2010, Robert Duran filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and Denver Sheriff's Deputy Steven Koehler. Mr. Duran alleged that, while he was waiting unescorted next to an elevator in the Denver County Jail as directed, Deputy Koehler approached him. Without warning or provocation, Deputy Koehler slammed Mr. Duran into the elevator wall. Deputy Koehler then dragged Mr. Duran approximately ten feet down the hallway. While Mr. Duran was handcuffed, Deputy Koehler kicked him all over his body and face. Mr. Duran was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Mr. Duran's injuries included scalp lacerations, bruised ribs, chest contusions and closed head injury. (Duran won a $40,000 settlement in the case, but as of this past September, Denver was blocking payment.)
In August 2010, Denver paid Chad Forte $22,500 to settle a lawsuit resulting from Denver Police Officer Kenneth Johnson's use of excessive force. After Mr. Forte allegedly jaywalked, Officer Johnson followed him into his apartment building and jumped him from behind, leaving him with facial injuries. Continue for more about Denver brutality incidents from the Marvin Booker lawsuit. Warning: A number of the photos that follow may disturb some readers.
On November 23, 2010, Jared Lunn filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Officer Eric Sellers and unknown Denver Police Officer John Doe. Mr. Lunn alleged that after he attempted to report an assault to Officer Sellers, which Officer Sellers ignored, Officer Sellers assaulted him. Mr. Lunn was attempting to get into his friend's vehicle when he muttered, "Way to protect and serve," in response to Officer Sellers' refusal to take his assault report seriously. Officer Sellers then wrapped his arm around Mr. Lunn's neck to pull him out of the car. Officer Sellers placed Mr. Lunn in a carotid compression hold. After Mr. Lunn went limp, Officer Sellers kicked his legs out from under him and threw him to the ground. After handcuffing Mr. Lunn, Officer Sellers got within inches of Mr. Lunn's face and yelled homophobic epithets at him. Officer Sellers then released Mr. Lunn without citing him for violation of any law and allowed him to go home. (The case was reportedly settled for $45,000.)
On January 12, 2011, Daniel Martinez, Jr., Nathan Martinez, Daniel Martinez III and Jonathan Martinez (collectively, "the Martinez family") filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman and Denver Police Officers Jason Valdez, Robert Martinez, Robert Motyka and Bryce Jackson. The Martinez Family alleged that the officers began pounding on their door shortly after 11:00 p.m., demanding that they open the door. When Daniel Martinez, Jr. opened the door slightly, the officers rushed into the house without consent or a warrant. Officer Valdez slammed Jonathan Martinez's head through a window and then pulled him outside of the house and slammed him onto the concrete to apply handcuffs. Officer Martinez pushed Daniel Martinez into the living room, pinned him against the sofa and applied handcuffs. Officer Motyka punched Nathan Martinez in the face without any provocation. Officer Jackson forcefully dragged Daniel Martinez III from the house and slammed him into the concrete before applying handcuffs. All of the Martinez family members were criminally charged. A jury acquitted Nathan Martinez and Daniel Martinez III on all charges. All of the charges against Daniel Martinez, Jr. and Jonathan Martinez were dropped. (In September, the case was settled for $1.8 million.)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
On January 11, 2011, Alexander Landau filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman and Denver Police Officers Randy Murr, Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton. Mr. Landau alleged that he was assaulted during a traffic stop. Mr. Landau was driving with Addison Hunold when he was pulled over. Mr. Landau did not have his wallet, so he could not provide any identifying information to the officers. He exited the car as instructed. Mr. Hunold informed the officers that he had a small amont of marijuana and he was placed in handcuffs. The officers began searching Mr. Landau's car. When they tried to open the trunk, Mr. Landau asked if they had a warrant authorizing a search of the trunk. Two of the officers then grabbed each of Mr. Landau's arms and a third officer punched him in the face with no provocation. One of the officers then yelled that Mr. Landau was going for a gun, even though he was not, and the officers continued to beat him in the face and head with their fists, a radio and a flashlight. Racist epithets were spewed at Mr. Landau, who is African American. More officers arrived on the scene and joined the assault, arriving on the scene documented that Mr. Landau was found lying prone on the curbside, handcuffed behind his back, bleeding from the head, with lacerations and in acute distress. Mr. Landau was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated for a broken nose, lacerations and serious closed head injuries, including a large hematoma, a concussion and a hemorrhage in his right eye. (The lawsuit was settled for $795,000.)
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.