Inmate Killed at Denver Jail Before Call to Investigate Marvin Booker's Death There

Inside Denver's Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.
Inside Denver's Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.
Earlier today, July 10, an inmate was killed at Denver's main downtown jail. The incident, which a source says involved inmate-on-inmate violence, took place mere hours before speakers at a press conference outside the facility are expected to demand an investigation into the death of Marvin Booker, who died at the jail on July 9, 2010, nearly seven years ago to the day.

Among those sharing information about the death at what is formally known as the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center is the Colorado Latino Forum, whose post on the topic appears below in its entirety. However, a representative with the Denver Police Department confirms the death of an inmate at around the time (7:10 a.m.) mentioned in the CLF statement, and a Denver Sheriff Department rep notes that the incident is under investigation by the DPD. Neither agency has provided any additional details at this writing.

In its item about the death, the Colorado Latino Forum cites its concerns about overcrowding, staff shortages and rising assaults at the jail, suggesting that such issues may have factored in to the latest tragedy at Van Cise.

Here's the CLF statement:
The Colorado Latino Forum has learned that an inmate was killed this morning at approximately 7:10 AM in Denver's Downtown Detention Center. Our understanding is the death was a result of an inmate-on-inmate assault. First, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family. No one expects their loved one to go to jail, only to be released in a body bag.

Second, CLF has been warning Sheriff Patrick Firman, Safety Director Stephanie O'Malley, City Attorney Kristin Bronson, and Mayor Michael Hancock about an impending tragedy as a result of the critical situation in Denver's jails due to jail overcrowding, extreme staff shortages, and rising assaults. While not all of the facts are out, we fully expect a transparent investigation, not only of the direct actors involved, but also an up-the chain inquiry.

Ultimately, the buck stops with leadership at the top, and they too must be held accountable. We will look to see whether Mayor Hancock will address the jail crisis and loss of life in today's State of the City speech, or if more platitudes willbe served up to Denver's voters. Up until now city leadership has been missing in action regarding community demands for answers from top public officials regarding Denver's increasing jail crisis.

We will remain resolute in holding those accountable who were on notice to prevent the next tragedy from occurring. We stand in solidarity with Denver's incarcerated community and the line-staff who were dealing with unsafe and dangerous conditions every day. We will continue to fight to improve the conditions inside Denver's jails, and will continue the struggle for the community to be heard until real reform finally occurs.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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