Mayor asks FBI to investigate alleged excessive force

4:38 PM, Aug 16, 2010   |    comments
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"The video is very disturbing, and when viewed in isolation it does not reflect well on the officers involved," Hickenlooper said in a statement to 9Wants to Know. "To help ensure justice is appropriately served, the city has requested the FBI review this case in its entirety."

Video obtained by 9Wants to Know shows Michael DeHerrera being beaten by police on April 4, 2009 after his male friend, Shawn Johnson, was kicked out of the Five Degrees nightclub for using the woman's bathroom.

"I just knew this was going to end so badly," DeHerrera said in the interview first broadcast by 9NEWS on Friday.

The video recorded on the downtown Denver H.A.L.O. camera at 15th and Larimer Streets shows DeHerrera watching his friend who was facedown on the pavement being arrested by police.

DeHerrera was on his cell phone, talking to his father in Pueblo.

Denver Manager of Public Safety Ron Parea went against a recommendation by the Denver Police monitor to fire the two officers.

The video shows Officer Devin Sparks hitting DeHerrera over and over.

Sparks admits he hit DeHerrera at least nine times with a piece of metal wrapped in leather known as a sap.

The Denver Disciplinary Review Board and the independent monitor decided both officers should be fired for using unnecessary force.

Parea, who has the final word on disciplinary action, disagreed.

"I did not find excessive force," Parea told 9Wants to Know. "In looking at the totality of the situation of the officer being assaulted and their attempts to get the individuals to comply, get them handcuffed and arrested, I felt the force was not excessive."

Perea suspended Officer Randy Murr for three days without pay for writing inaccurate reports, and Sparks was docked 24 hours pay.

Perea says the officers did not lie on their reports.

"It's difficult for an officer to write a report afterwards when he doesn't have the availability of video. It will look different," he said.

In his statement, Hickenlooper cautioned that the video tells only a portion of the story.

"This was the manager of safety's decision to make. He did so after reviewing all of the evidence, which included the video and statements from witnesses and the officers involved," he said. "It is appropriate for the independence monitor to question the manger of safety's decision. Very few cities have this type of check-and-balance system that we have created in Denver."

If you have information about this incident or a tip for 9Wants to Know, e-mail or call 303-871-1799.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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