Michael DeHerrera, victim of police beating, can't get a job because arrest still on record
Earlier this month, we spoke to Michael DeHerrera and his father, Anthony, about their displeasure over the reinstatement of two cops fired for beating Michael in 2009.
But Michael is dealing with more than disappointment. His dad says he can't get a job because that two-year-old arrest remains on his record -- a chronic problem in cases like these, according to the ACLU.
"He's applied for these jobs, and everything's looking good, it gets down to the final process, and then once [the prospective employer] does the criminal history, his arrest from Denver P.D. comes up, and he's disqualified," Anthony DeHerrera told CompleteColorado.com. "I ran my own CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) check on him, and sure enough, the resisting arrest is still on there, the interference with an officer is on there. So who's going to hire him when they see that?"
DeHerrera is far from the first person to experience this issue, says Rosemary Lytle Harris, the ACLU of Colorado spokeswoman.
"Part of our Race to Justice campaign addresses the collateral consequences of incarceration," she notes. "And those who are convicted of a felony in this country have in place some legalized discrimination against them. Employers have a right to ask about felony records and to deny employment because of it, even if that employment has nothing to do with he felony conviction. As a result, people can't vote, they have trouble getting housing, etc. But these collateral consequences are not only related to convictions, but also to arrests. Even people who've been arrested based on pure racial profiling or pure discrimination based on sexual orientation, or who are wrongfully beaten, as in the cases of Michael DeHerrera and Alex Landau, still have the consequences of their arrest."
Harris Lytle concedes that a legal process is in place to seal such arrest records, but she describes it as expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, "people who go to the trouble of having their record sealed may still have the arrest pop up somewhere, because you can't wipe it off Internet news sites or the public domain. It's still not a guarantee that they will be able to go on with their lives without having the consequences of a wrongful arrest hanging over them."
What can be done to help people in this situation? Harris Lytle says the ACLU "is looking at addressing this through litigation or legislatively."
Staffers are studying the various options; no specific bill is being readied for introduction right now. But "in New York," she says, "once a charge against you is fully dismissed, you'll never see it on a criminal record. It'll be wiped off completely. That's a step forward in addressing the consequences, and a model for us."
Such a change would help future victims. But Michael DeHerrera remains a marked man even though the marks put on him have been deemed unjust.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Alexander Landau police beating: Denver settles lawsuit for $795,000."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.