For those keeping track at home, the investigation of the April 2009 on-camera beating of Michael DeHerrera has lasted more than three years -- and it's not done yet: The Colorado Progressive Coalition announced today that the case had been delayed for five more months. Over the past three years, the Denver Police officers involved in the incident, Devin Sparks and Randy Murr, were suspended from the force, fired and then subsequently un-fired before the Denver Civil Service Commission reversed their unfiring in April. But they can appeal that decision -- again -- and will do so in October.
Recently, the City Attorney's office informed Anthony DeHerrera, Michael DeHerrera's father, of plans to conduct the appeals hearing from October 22 to November 2. This schedule would mean that a final decision would come roughly five months past the Civil Service Commission's own ninety-day policy for making rulings.
"I make my weekly calls to the mayor's office and the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Justice, but then they called me to say they had rescheduled all the way to October," Anthony DeHerrera says. "It's just more frustration. We've been doing this for three years and two months now, and to me, it's just become this game we're playing. I think they hope that people get tired of fighting them and just give up, but we're not going anywhere."
As covered by Westword, the results have changed frequently during a drawn-out series of changing minds: It took roughly a year for an initial decision to be reached, and in August 2010 then Manager of Safety Ron Perea recommended both Sparks and Murr be suspended for three days without pay. (Perea later resigned during the controversy this launched.) And the decision didn't last: In March the next year, his successor, Charley Garcia, removed both men from the force. In the following months, Sparks and Murr appealed that move, and the hearing panel opted to reinstate them.
As of last month, the Civil Service Commission had again reversed that direction -- and the cops are again appealing the news. In a strange twist of irony, Sparks and Murr are appealing their re-firing in front of the same hearing panel that rehired them after Garcia dropped them from their jobs last year.
"They're supposed to arrest people for committing crimes, and they're the ones committing them," says Anthony DeHerrera. "To me, they're not changing the internal police culture; they're just moving it around."
In the meantime, the CPC continues to collect signatures for its "Bring Justice to Denver" campaign to persuade the United States Department of Justice to conduct a formal review of the DPD. Last month, CPC representatives also traveled to Washington D.C., where they visited the offices of the state's national representatives, including Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, to ask the politicians to add their weight to the effort.
Check back for more updates.
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