A Denver sheriff’s deputy attempted to use a Taser on an apparent vagrant the same morning a jury slapped the city with a historic excessive-force penalty in the death of a homeless man Tasered by deputies on the floor of the city jail.
The skirmish in west Denver happened at 8 a.m. Oct. 14 – about three hours before federal jurors ruled that five Denver sheriff’s officials used excessive force and zeal in restraining Marvin Booker in July 2010. Booker’s family was awarded a historic $4.65 million in damages – not including an estimated $2 million in attorneys’ fees – for his killing at the hands of deputies.
Deputies’ use of the stun gun was key in Booker’s case because he was Tasered after deputies forcefully restrained him and, several witnesses said, he was already motionless and limp on the booking-room floor.
Last Tuesday’s incident began when Denver sheriff’s Deputy Alex Medina heard a call over a police dispatch radio that a man had lit a trash receptacle on fire near West Colfax Avenue and Osceola Street south of Sloan’s Lake in west Denver. Medina drove to the scene, where the suspect reportedly was changing his clothes and then started throwing bricks or other construction materials at Medina.
Police Officer Adolph Chavez arrived on the scene, and the suspect reportedly also began throwing objects at him. A brick or rock shattered the windshield of his police car, a witness said.
Medina reached for his Taser to subdue the suspect. The stun gun apparently didn’t work, even though its probe was lodged in the suspect’s body, a witness said.
After a brief chase, Chavez and Medina restrained the suspect, and the officer arrested him.
Medina was on duty serving a summons that morning.
The case is under investigation. At issue is whether Medina acted within the bounds of his duty in the Sheriff Department, which is tasked with keeping the peace in the city’s jails and courthouses.
The Colorado Independent has filed a Freedom of Information request about the incident and is awaiting a response from Denver’s safety department.