Protestors are marching in cities across the country following a grand jury decision not to indict an officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.
Today, the controversial maneuver is the subject of the latest investigation by Denver’s Sheriffs Department, which has battled a string of excessive force cases and which Mayor Michael Hancock vowed to reform.
On Thursday morning at Denver’s jail, Sergeant Loren Collier grabbed a prisoner by the neck, put him in a chokehold and took him to the ground, sources have told The Colorado Independent. The incident happened in the presence of other deputies, several of whom piled on top, a videotape shows.
The prisoner — whom the city refuses to name — was reportedly seated in a chair and had disobeyed orders to move. He was taken to Denver Health after having either passed out or having claimed to have passed out. Sources say he is not seriously injured.
“A sergeant is on investigatory leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” Sheriffs Department Simon Crittle told The Independent. “As the incident is under Internal Affairs investigation, the department cannot discuss the details of what occurred.”
The city recently paid $6 million for the death of street preacher Marvin Booker at the hands of deputies at the jail in 2010. Like in this case, Booker had disobeyed orders when staffers restrained him, piled on top of him, used a chokehold and Taser to restrain him. Though Booker’s death was ruled a homicide by Denver’s coroner, the deputies involved weren’t reprimanded by the Safety Department nor prosecuted by Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.
Hancock’s administration defended Booker’s killing for four years.
In the aftermath of the historic jury award in the Booker family’s federal civil suit against the city — and after a string of other highly publicized, videotaped incidents of deputies injuring prisoners in the jail — Hancock has pledged comprehensive reforms in officers’ use of force.