Late last month, the Denver Police Department named former district and country judge Jess Vigil to the new position of deputy manager of police discipline -- a move ballyhooed as an indication that the DPD under Chief Robert White is getting serious about brutality allegations. But the attorney for the victims in the Denver Diner case thinks another appointee -- Mary Beth Klee, asked to head the Internal Affairs bureau -- undermines any progress.
According to Siddhartha Rathod, who represents Kelly Boren, Sharelle Thomas, Ana Ortega and Kristal Carrillo in the Denver Diner lawsuit, "The appointment of Commander Mary Beth Klee as the head of the Internal Affairs Bureau is another example of Denver's failure to protect its citizens and Denver's failure to create a system that disciplines deplorable police conduct. These types of actions further Denver's culture of police brutality and dishonesty."
Why? Rathod, corresponding via e-mail, notes that Klee was among the senior DPD officers to review facts of the Denver Diner incident, including surveillance footage that appears to show officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine roughing up and pepper-spraying his clients without provocation. Nonetheless, Klee found their conduct to be "completely appropriate and lawful," he writes.
Despite this determination, Manager of Safety Charles Garcia fired Nixon and Devine this past April. But they were subsequently reinstated by the city's Civil Service Commission even before a review of Nixon's actions in the Alexander Landau beating was completed. Denver appealed the commission's ruling, but the edict was upheld because the city had filed required paperwork after a deadline.
Rathod doesn't see the city's tardiness as a simple mistake. "This is more than incompetence," he allows. "This shows a willful sabotaging of their own case" -- an affront exacerbated, in his view, by Klee's new role.
"Our clients are appalled that...Chief Robert White continually dismisses the Denver Police Department's culture of police brutality and dishonesty as merely a perception issue," he notes, adding that "Klee's involvement in the Denver Diner Incident" makes it "clear that she is a police brutality apologist and upholds the blue code of silence above all else."
At present, the Denver Diner lawsuit is still in the discovery phase; get more information about the case below. In the meantime, Rathod feels that "the Denver Police Department's cowboy subculture of brutality and dishonesty has found an ally in Commander Mary Beth Klee."
Ms. Ortega (far left) is wearing a salmon/pink colored skirt with a white blouse; Officer Nixon (third from left) is a uniformed Denver Police Officer and Caucasian male with a shaved head who is wearing black gloves; Ms. Pena (far right) is wearing a red dress and has brown hair; Ms. Carrillo (on ground) is wearing jeans and a black t-shirt with a light red pattern in the front, currently handcuffed and seated with her head pressed forward; and an unknown Caucasian male (second from left) wearing a gray shirt and black pants is an employee from the Denver Diner.
Ms. Vidal (top right) is wearing a white top and a black skirt; Ms. Ortega (bottom right); Officer Nixon (second from left); Ms. Pena (middle); Ms. Carrillo (on ground); unknown Denver Diner male (far left); and Ms. Boren and Ms. Thomas (far right) are currently not visible as they are behind the bicycle and tree.
Officer Devine (top middle) is a uniformed Denver Police Officer with brown hair, holding a baton in his right hand; Ms. Boren and Ms. Thomas (far right) are currently obstructed as they are behind the bicycle and tree, although Ms. Thomas' arm can be seen coming into the picture from behind the tree; Ms. Ortega (bottom middle); Officer Nixon (top left); Ms. Pena (bottom right); unknown Denver Diner male (far left); Ms. Carrillo (on ground); and Ms. Vidal (top right).
Ms. Boren (far right) is a Caucasian female, standing next to the bicycle taxi, with blond hair wearing a red dress and white blouse. Ms. Thomas (far right) is African-American, standing to the right of Ms. Boren. Both women are facing Officer Devine (middle), who is grabbing and pulling on Ms. Thomas' right arm. In Image 4, Officer Devine can be seen smoking a large cigar.
Ms. Boren is pushed by Officer Devine and thrown backwards onto the ground. Fransisco Macias and Jay Spencer (top right) and other males are seen as well.
Ms. Thomas is on the ground at the feet of Officer Nixon after being thrown down by Officer Devine. Ms. Thomas is unable to get up at this point.
Officer Devine took his cigar out of his mouth and threw it to the ground. He then lunged towards Ms. Ortega and with his baton and shoved her backwards. Officer Devine then grabbed Ms. Ortega's left arm, partially spun her, and pulled her towards him. Ms. Ortega fell to her knees, and Officer Devine placed Ms. Ortega's left arm behind her back, and in a wrist lock. While holding Ms. Ortega's arm behind her back, Officer Devine forcibly placed his baton in between Ms. Ortega's neck and shoulder blade. Ms. Ortega was subdued, and at no time was she resisting arrest or combating Officer Devine. Ms. Ortega suffered bruising to her chest due to Officer Devine's violence against her.
Officer Nixon approached Ms. Ortega while she was on her knees, restrained by Officer Devine. At point blank range, Officer Nixon pepper sprayed Ms. Ortega in the face and eyes. Ms. Ortega was immediately overcome with extreme and severe pain. Ms. Ortega screamed out, asking why she had been pepper sprayed.
Officer Nixon is pepper spraying Ms. Thomas (Image 16), and then approaching closer and pepper spraying Ms. Boren (Image 17).
Ms. Pena (middle) wearing the red dress is pleading with Officer Devine to not hurt Ms. Ortega.
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