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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Family Wins Wrongful Death Suit Against Denver Sheriff's Deputies

     A federal court jury on October 14, 2014 found that five Denver sheriff's deputies had used excessive force against a homeless street preacher who died in 2010. The jury awarded the family of Marvin Booker $4.6 million in damages. Booker died after deputies shocked him with a Taser while he was handcuffed, put him in a sleeper hold and lay on top of him…The Booker family attorney said this was a zealous overreaction to the frail 56-year-old.

     A lawyer representing the city of Denver told jurors that the deputies' actions were in line with the sheriff department's policies for handling a combative inmate. The three-week trial came amid calls for a federal investigation of the sheriff's office over other high-profile cases that prompted the sheriff's department to make sweeping reforms. Former sheriff Gary Wilson resigned in July 2014 after the county agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle another federal jail-abuse lawsuit by a former inmate over a beating…

     Booker's family filed the federal lawsuit against the county of Denver as well as deputies Faun Gomez, James Grimes, Kyle Sharp, Kenneth Robinette, and Sgt. Carrie Rodriguez. Inmates told investigators that the struggle began when Booker was ordered to sit down in the jail's booking area but instead moved to collect his shoes, which he had taken off for comfort.

      Attorneys representing Booker's family said deputies stunned him for too long and should have backed down when Booker said he was struggling to breathe. In his closing argument, the plaintiff's attorney said the "dog pile" of deputies was a zealous overreaction…Denver's medical examiner said Booker died of cardiorespiratory arrest during restraint, and ruled his death a homicide. The autopsy report listed other factors in his death, including emphysema, an enlarged heart and recent cocaine use.

"Jurors Find Deputies Used Excessive Force in Death," Associated Press, October 14, 2014   

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