ACLU calls on Department of Justice to investigate Denver PD

The ACLU of Colorado joined together with other civil rights groups Wednesday to call on the Department of Justice to investigate what they called a pattern of civil rights violation by Denver law enforcement.

The call, put out by the ACLU of Colorado along with the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, the Denver Branch NAACP, and members of the family of Marvin L. Booker, came after the Denver Safety Manager found that there was no policy violation in the death of Mr Booker at the Denver City Jail. The death of Booker, an inmate, was ruled a homicide after sheriff’s deputies used  a “sleeper” hold on him and Tased him.

“The Denver Safety Manager’s finding that no policy violations occurred in relation to Marvin Booker’s death by restraint at the hands of five deputies is an admission that sheriff’s department policies sanction homicide and highlights the need for an independent investigation into a pattern or practice of civil rights violations by law enforcement in Denver,” said ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein.

Silverstein said legal efforts to call for the federal investigation will begin immediately with a letter to the Department of Justice.

ACLU Executive Director C. Ray Drew said a pattern is evident in Denver Police Department abuses. He pointed to a number of cases that resulted in bodily harm or death. Those cases included that of Booker in 2010; Alex Landau, Trudy Troutt and Michael DeHerrera in 2009; and Juan Vasquez in 2008. Drew said the pattern stretches all the way back to 2004.

“The majority of law enforcement officers are good, honest officers who are trying to do the right thing,” he said. “But a police department that can’t rid itself of rogue cops is by its own definition, a bad police force.”

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