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Latino leaders ask for manager of safety's resignation

5:20 PM, Aug 19, 2010   |    comments
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"Whether it's arrogance, denial, your justifications or you've just dug your heels in, I think you have two choices at this point," community activist LeRoy Lemos said. "Make the right decision, fire those officers, do the right thing or force us to have to go after your job."

Manager of Safety Ronald Perea did not say if he would step down, but he did say he stands by his decision.

"I do not believe that that man's civil rights were violated. I know you think it's wrong, but it does not mean it's a bad police department," Perea said. "I diligently reviewed all of the facts and the totality of the circumstances and that's what I made my decision on. And I still stand by that decision."

While the independent monitor found Denver Police Officers Randy Murr and Devin Sparks should be fired for using unnecessary force and then lying on their reports to cover it up, Perea did not think the officers used excessive force.

Perea maintains there are witness statements that support the officers' stories.

The officers are accused of beating two men, Michael DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson, at 15th and Larimer Streets on April 4, 2009.

Instead, Perea suspended Murr without pay for three days and took 24 hours of pay away from Sparks after finding that they wrote their police reports "inaccurately."

The suspension without pay for Murr will begin on Sept. 5 and run through Sept. 7.

More than 50 people packed into a meeting room Thursday afternoon to meet with Perea, including city council members, members of the Urban League, Police Watch, CO Progressive Coalition, Latino leaders, community activists and church leaders. Most, if not all of them, disagreed with Perea's punishment of the two officers.

"Let the two officers go. And if you don't let the two officers go, then, respectfully, it's time for you to step aside," City Councilwoman Judy Montero said.

Latino leaders say they left the meeting angry and dissatisfied. They say his decision set back community and police relations a decade.

"They should lose their jobs. We see it as a hate crime. I believe it's a hate crime. You are not serving the people," Mark De La Cruz Chavez of the Esceluel School said.

The group said it would now take its concerns about Perea's decision to Mayor John Hickenlooper. On Tuesday, the mayor told Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman that he's "inclined to stick with him."

Also on Thursday, Denver Police and FBI said they are planning to interview two eyewitnesses who talked to 9Wants to Know.

The witnesses disagree completely with Sparks and Murr police reports that say DeHerrera tried to or did hit the officers. They also say that DeHerrera was screaming at the officers to stop hitting him because he was not resisting arrest.

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

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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