Eye witnesses to beating come forward to 9Wants to Know

8:38 AM, Aug 20, 2010   |    comments
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Prominent Latinos say they are shocked that Manager of Safety Ronald Perea disciplined the officers instead of firing them after his investigation found the officers guilty of writing "inaccurate reports," but not of using unnecessary force.

The Denver independent monitor disagreed with Perea's findings and issued a public report Monday saying the officers should be fired for using excessive force during the arrests and then lying on their police reports to cover it up.

The leaders plan to tell Perea they fear that he's moving the oversight of the city's police force backwards.

The face-to-face meeting is set for 1 p.m. Thursday in Denver.

Wednesday, two eyewitnesses said the victim was not fighting the officers, and said once the man was on the ground, he pleaded with them to stop hitting him, 9Wants to Know has learned.

"He said, 'I'm not resisting, I'm not resisting, sir. Sir, I'm not resisting. You don't have to hit me,'" witness Hasan Aoutabachai told 9Wants to Know Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman. "And he just kept beating him while they were on the ground... punching him, punching him, punching him on the ground, punching him. I've never seen anything so terrible."

Aoutabachai was walking to their car after an evening out with his girlfriend Vanessa Shaver when they saw officers arresting a man and noticed another man talking on the cell phone. The couple says they were just a few feet away from the arrests and saw everything.

"They got him good. It was very, very vulgar. It was brutal," he said.

In police reports, Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr claim Michael DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson pushed or hit Murr. Sparks claims that while DeHerrera was talking on his cell phone, he made a fist and "spun to his left attempting to strike me in the face with a closed right fist."

The eyewitnesses say that is not what they saw on the night of April 4, 2009.

"That is a big lie. He did not swing at all. The cop grabbed him by the neck immediately and got him on the ground, he had no chance to hit him. Zero chance to swing at him," Aoutabachai said. "He grabbed him from the back and threw him down so there was zero chance for him to hit the guy or even take a swing."

DeHerrera suffered a concussion, two broken teeth, a swollen eye and multiple deep bruises and cuts after the officers hit him with a police weapon. His father is a sheriff's deputy in Pueblo County.

The witnesses have never been interviewed by police or local or federal investigators. They talked to 9Wants to Know after seeing some of the video of the arrest on television.

If you have any news tips, please e-mail Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman at Deborah.Sherman@9NEWS.com.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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