Michael DeHerrera beating: Officers Devin Sparks & Randy Murr fired by Manager of Safety

Michael DeHerrera was using a cell phone when he was beaten by Denver Police officers -- a 2009 incident captured on video. Since then, there have been a great many cries for justice amid publicity over other alleged incidents of excessive force involving the likes of Alex Landau. But finally, new manager of safety Charles Garcia has done what predecessor Ron Perea wouldn't. He's fired Devin Sparks and Randy Murr, the cops involved.

Here's the rationale, shared by the office of interim-Mayor Bill Vidal, who has handled this matter far more quickly and decisively than did now-Governor John Hickenlooper.

Manager of Safety Issues Final Decision

Manager of Safety Charles Garcia announces the termination of DPD officers

DENVER, CO -- March 25, 2011 -- Manager of Safety Charles F. Garcia announced today the termination of Denver Police Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr. Officer Sparks was found in violation of RR-112.2 Commission of a Deceptive Act and RR- 306 Inappropriate Force, and Officer Randy Murr was found in violation of RR-122.2 Commission of a Deceptive Act.

These violations arose out of an incident in April 2009 in which the officers were investigated for policy violations during the arrest of Michael DeHerrera.

Manager Garcia reviewed the cases and ordered the termination of both officers in accordance with the DPD discipline matrix.

"We cannot and do not tolerate dishonesty in any safety agency which is why it holds the most severe penalty in the discipline matrix," said Garcia. "Honesty, integrity and accountability are core values of the Denver Police Department. We are entrusted with the public's confidence and that requires incorruptible character, fair treatment of all people and truthfulness in all of our officers."

"When the word of an officer can not be taken as truth, or when an officer abuses his or her authority, immeasurable harm is done to the image of the entire department."

Manager Garcia, as the civilian authority over the Department of Safety, reached this decision as the conclusion of the established discipline process. This process consists of many checks and balances that include internal investigations, review and recommendations by the command structure, review and recommendations by the Citizen Oversight Board and Independent Monitor, and reliance on the discipline matrix to determine appropriate disciplinary action.

This incident will be used as a training opportunity for new and veteran Denver Police officers regarding the appropriate use of force, as well as to remind them of the penalties under the discipline matrix for commission of a deceptive act.

"It is important to have brought a just conclusion to this troubling incident," said Mayor Guillermo (Bill) Vidal. "The lesson to be learned by all of us as public servants is that we must always act in a manner that we would be proud of, no matter who is watching. However, we should not allow this incident to bring doubt to the outstanding service the many men and women of our Department of Safety provide in keeping our city safe."

The overwhelming majority of our uniformed safety personnel are outstanding public servants who deserve our respect and gratitude for their service. Our citizens should continue to have every confidence in our officers and in their ability to do the right thing, to make the right decision and to protect and serve our community. The actions of police officers truly make a difference every day, and we appreciate and thank them for their service.

Mayor Vidal and Manager Garcia remain committed to a timely resolution of all pending discipline cases as the best way to ensure for our citizens, and for all of our Safety personnel, a just, transparent and accountable discipline process.

More from our News archive: "Police brutality: Were Michael DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson targeted because they're gay?"

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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