In July, Judge John Kane, ruling in a brutality case brought by Jason Graber, ordered Denver to release every document related to excessive force complaints against cops and sheriff's deputies for eight years. "Further obstruction will not be tolerated," he added, and he meant it. He's now threatening to fine the city $5,000 per day for feet-dragging, and that's fine by Graber attorney David Lane.
As we've reported, Graber says he was walking from a Denver club to the Adams Mark hotel in March 2008 when a police car sped by so fast that he motioned for the driver to slow down. Instead, the officer, Shawn Miller, stopped the car and tackled Graber to the ground.
A few days later, Miller was allegedly involved in another brutality incident, this one targeting Iraq war veteran James Moore, another Lane client. After tracking down information in the officer's file related to the Moore case that wasn't provided in regard to Graber, Lane and company concluded that the police department was stonewalling. Hence, the sweeping request for all excessive-force documentation in recent years.
After Kane agreed, city attorneys objected. According to the Denver Post, they claim that gathering all this material -- approximately 300,000 pages' worth, plus 7,500 audio and video recordings -- would cost the city $85,000.
Clearly, Kane is willing to add to this expense. "He's had it with Denver's delay tactics," Lane says, "and he's holding their feet to the fire, very appropriately."
Gripes about the volume of items to be assembled strike Lane as double-edged. "For them to say, 'We have so many complaints against Denver cops that we can't possibly produce it all in thirty days' speaks volumes about what's wrong with the Denver Police Department if that's true.
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"Frankly, I'm very skeptical about their complaints that it can't be done," he adds, "and I think Judge Kane is also very skeptical of that. Another one of their excuses is, 'Gee, our files are so disorganized that we don't know where all this stuff is.' And Kane's response is, 'Your disorganization is not an excuse not to comply with my order.'"
Hence, the clock is ticking. By Lane's reckoning, the city has until the first week of October to achieve what Kane feels is significant progress toward providing the information he wants. If they do so, Lane expects that this bounty of information will "expose all of the corruption over the years in protecting Denver cops and sheriff's deputies from any discipline for gross misconduct."
More from our News archive: "Denver fights David Lane policy for cops to put away their guns during depositions."