Marvin Booker could have been just another name in a long list of black men killed by law enforcement officers who are all too rarely held accountable. But filmmaker Wade Gardner decided that the story of the street preacher’s 2010 murder at the hands of sheriff’s deputies in the Denver County Jail shouldn’t be forgotten.
Given that the deputies who murdered Booker on videotape weren’t prosecuted — or even reprimanded — for the killing, Gardner figured that a documentary would be the next best way to hold their feet to the fire.
Last year, the filmmaker met with the Booker family’s lawyers and started interviewing Denver city officials, the attorneys on both sides of the case and the family. Now, more than 35 interviews later, Gardner is finishing up principal photography and preparing to edit his investigative documentary, Marvin Booker Was Murdered, which the first-time feature filmmaker plans to release in November 2016.
Gardner has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to shoot additional interviews in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Memphis and to conduct Freedom of Information Act requests that would help his team dig deeper into the case. As of this writing, donors have pledged more than half of the $12,000 Gardner needs to make his all-or-nothing goal by Sept. 16.
Booker’s story has the power to change how cities handle excessive force cases, lessons Denver still needs to learn. Even after losing $6 million to Booker’s family after a federal jury found city officials lied about Booker’s death and withheld evidence in the case, Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration hasn’t apologized or expressed remorse.
“Here we are, five years later, and the city doesn’t get it. That’s why this story is so important and why we need to get this story out.”