Police brutality: Independent monitor says chokeholding Denver cop deserved to be fired

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Lunn and his attacker, Officer Eric Sellers, were first named by 9News. But while the Office of the Independent Monitor's 2011 first quarter report, on view below, doesn't use their monikers, it contains plenty of vivid detail.

On December 28, 2009, the report says an officer (Sellers) was working off-duty in a LoDo bar when a complainant (Lunn) told him a man had punched him in the face and thrown his pizza on the ground. The officer responded by telling Lunn to leave because he was drunk.

As he headed to a friend's car in response to this order, Lunn said something to the effect of, "A job well done." To that, according to Lunn's pal, Sellers replied, "Oh, you want to play that way, motherfucker," grabbed Lunn from behind and put him in a chokehold. Sellers then took Lunn to the ground, handcuffed him and taunted him for several minutes as a "pussy" and a "faggot." Lunn was only allowed to leave after he apologized.

For these actions, and for lying about them afterward, former Manager of Safety Ron Perea handed Sellers a 45-day suspension that was eventually whittled down to forty days due to a series of technicalities.

Rosenthal's take: Sellers should have been fired, period. And he also feels a Sheriff's captain identified by 9News as Cheryl Arabalo should have been demoted to deputy, rather than getting a seventy-day suspension from then-Manager of Safety Mary Malatesta's office, for a lie of her own. According to the OIM report, she falsely claimed to have completed a July 14, 2010 review to ensure that rounds at the Denver County Jail were being conducted and documented following what's described as a "high-profile in-custody death where it was determined that Sheriff Deputies were not conducting rounds as required by policy and procedure." Presumably, the incident in question involved Marvin Booker, who died in the jail on July 9. The Denver District Attorney declined to file charges in Booker's death; a lawsuit is currently pending in the case.

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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