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Marvin Booker lawsuit to establish pattern of police brutality in Denver, attorney says

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"We're not just filing on behalf of Marvin Booker," Killmer notes. "Because of this wave of law-enforcement brutality Denver has experienced over the past few years, we're taking on the whole system. We've detailed dozens of examples of law-enforcement brutality to establish that Denver has a culture and environment that tolerates and therefore encourages brutality against citizens and residents."

Among the examples Killmer mentions is the 2006 jail death of Emily Rae Rice, subject of the Westword feature "Rae of Sunshine."

Why was the Booker case the right one to use as the centerpiece for the suit?

"The impact of it was so profoundly tragic," Killmer believes. "He was killed with no cause whatsoever, and his family has been begging the city to do something about it. They asked the district attorney to prosecute, and he refused to do so" -- click to read DA Mitch Morrissey's decision letter in the Booker matter. "They asked the city attorney's office to hold individuals accountable, and they refused to do. They asked Mayor Hickenlooper and temporary mayor Vidal to do something, and they've done nothing in response."

Indeed, Killmer and the family still haven't been able to see a video that captured Booker's death despite Hickenlooper's promise last September of a private viewing. "Two days after Mr. Booker was killed, the family asked to see the video," he notes. "At first, they were told they couldn't see it until after the coroner did an examination and report. Then, after that was done, they said, 'You can't see it until the DA decides whether to bring charges.' Then, after the DA predictably decided not to bring charges, they asked again and were told, 'You can't see evidence until after internal affairs finishes its investigation.'

"Now, it's seven-and-a-half months later -- the whole event took less than seven-and-a-half minutes -- and the investigation is still going on, with no end in sight. In Emily Rice's case, they were still investigating it nineteen months after she died. We shouldn't have to wait that long. So we'll get it through this lawsuit."

The bottom line for Killmer? "The city is not policing itself. In fact, they refuse to themselves. People don't get disciplined or fired. The whole apparatus is corrupt. The DA's office refuses to prosecute, the Office of the Independent Monitor refuses to react in any way other than to watch the inactivity of the system, and the mayor, whoever it is at the time, says nice words but never does anything. There seems to be no remedy. So where do we turn? We have to turn to the courts."

Page down to read the lawsuit in its entirety -- it pits the Booker estate against four deputies, a sergeant and the City and County of Denver -- as well as a release detailing this morning's press conference.

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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