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Over Easy: Behind the Headlines: 300-page report on the Denver County jail

On September 11, 2012, Anthony Waller stood before Judge Doris Burd in a Denver courtroom to hear and discuss his charges. His attire included handcuffs, shackles (leg irons), a belly chain and a lock box over his hands. In the video (shown above), Judge Burd explains the charges and Mr. Waller politely responds with a “Yes, Ma’am,” and an objection. At this moment, for no apparent reason at all, the deputy standing behind Mr. Waller attacks him, slams his head against a window, and drags him into the hallway where the assault continues. In a rare move, the judge later filed a complaint against the deputy, who happened to be the son of a previous head of the sheriff department. The assaulting deputy got a 30-day suspension from duty- after a year passed. Anthony Waller filed a 5 million dollar civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

Last year, a Denver jury awarded a record $4.65 M to the family of a homeless street preacher named Marvin Booker, who was restrained, repeatedly shocked and killed in the Denver jail waiting area. To include attorney fees and expenses, Denver will pay 6 million in the Marvin Booker jail death settlement.

These are only two examples in a long list of excessive force incidents involving the Denver Sheriff’s Department and inmates in the jail. Following litigation that cost the city more than $9 million in settlements and legal fees, Denver’s mayor hired Hillard Heintze, an independent consulting firm to find out why there were so many excessive-use-use-of-force incidents.

Behind the Headlines with DPTV’s Molly Hughes and Noelle Phillips discusses the 300-page report (pdf) Hilliard Heintze released last month containing 14 major findings and 277 recommendations to fix problems at the Denver County jail:

The report recommends what amounts to a change of culture and a systemic overhaul of what appears to be, quite simply, a ‘good ole boy’ network of deputies who are accountable only to themselves or their own kinfolks.

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Crane-Station

Crane-Station

  • Ruth

    Thanks, Crane-Station, from the multiple incidents of horrible behavior shown by the police we’ve entrusted with our safety, it does seem a national overhaul needs to happen. We are endangered by the very officers we’re trusting to keep us safe, and the atmosphere of distrust between those of us who don’t usually encounter with ‘officers of the peace’ and those on the edge is a threat to all of us.

  • Ruth

    thanks for good company, off to do wash and gardening.

  • Boxturtle

    Good Morning All!

    This is happening everywhere, in every state. This is a nationwide, systemic problem not something just isolated to a few “bad apples”. Public officials should be barred from using the phrase “bad apples” or anything like it when discussing official wrongdoing. And it’s aided and abetted by compliant prosecutors. What is it that is SO important about excessive force and malfeasance that cities are willing to pay millions in lawsuits rather than try to stop it?

    At the very least, when a cop costs a city millions, that cop should be fired along with whomever trained him.

    Boxturtle (The trainers at the Denver PD have a LOT to answer for. But they never will)

  • Boxturtle

    That’s just it, the cops aren’t there for the citizens anymore. They serve the politicians who serve their campaign contributors. And campaign contributors just want anything that would disrupt their finances or life of ease locked up.

    We supposedly elect politicians to run the country, yet is seems that most problems can be solved by eliminating certain specific politicians or just politicians in general.

    Boxturtle (Maybe it’s time we started drafting politicians and paying them minimum wage)

  • oldhippiejan

    Took the words right out of my mouth. This happens a helluva lot.

  • Marion in Savannah

    Good morning, pups. Today we have Friedman and Bruni. In “Planting Seeds in Baltimore” TMOW says the SEED School of Maryland has just graduated its first class, sending them on to colleges all over the country. In the comments “Whome” from NYC had this to say: “So after all that effort and money spent the program appears to have a 35% graduation rate. Is that any different than the public school graduation rate?” In “My Road to the White House” Mr. Bruni says if you can’t bear ‘em, join ‘em. Welcome to his 2016 campaign.

    HERE they are, and

    HERE’s Krugman’s blog.

    The coffee and tea are ready, and I’ve got a variety of bagels with cream cheese this morning. It’s possible that part of the problem we are now facing with police departments all over the country is their pool of candidates. Down here almost all of the new police officers (10 years or less on the force) have come straight out of the military. I fear that too much of that military training slops over into their reactions to civilians. Gotta get some work done before an appointment this afternoon. Have a great day.

  • Boxturtle

    Yeah, but why? I simply don’t believe that all these cops start out bad, what is it about police work that changes them into thugs? What is it about police work that makes protecting another cop more important than upholding the law? The cops sure aren’t getting any of the political contributions.

    Boxturtle (It happens more than we know, a lot of this is SUCCESSFULLY covered up)

  • Boxturtle

    Lot of ex-military hired around here, too. But the problems seem to be coming from the more senior cops who have been in the system the longest. They’re the ones telling the newbies what to say and how to drop a gun by the victim.

    Boxturtle (They don’t teach that at the academy. Openly, anyway)

  • Molly

    TMOW!! I love it!

  • Molly

    Good morning everyone. What I wonder, after watching the first video, is why that judge didn’t stop the cop from roughing up the defendant, who was shackled 6 ways from Sunday. Why didn’t he bring order to his courtroom???

  • Beverly Lawson

    Good Morning All, SIckening facts in this picture, and scary. I think part of the answer to the “changes” comes from the ongoing context and hazards of the work, at least that’s the most frequent explanation that Ive heard….such as always feeling a risk of harm, etc.

  • Canyon2

    Good morning everyone.
    Thank you for the post Crane-Station.
    More and more we are learning about police brutality in different forms. This guy dared to do it before a judge and got a suspension. What happens out in the field is only now beginning to come to light with the phone cameras so readily available.
    I want to ask the question but not sound dumb. Has this been going on for a long time or are we becoming a more vicious society of late?

  • Boxturtle

    There was order in his courtroom. The disorder was in the hallway outside. The judge probably sees defendants repressed like that frequently.

    I’m confused as to why that judge filed a complaint. He’s just sitting there doing paperwork while this happens when he clearly could have intervened. I wonder if he knew that the incident was recorded and going public, thus covered his butt.

    Boxturtle (Becasue he sure doesn’t look upset when it happens)

  • oldhippiejan

    In my humble opinion, it’s power. Seems to be human nature anymore that once one has a little (or lot) of power over their “lessers” they tend to exercise it to the extreme. It’s been my experience that happens in such lowly places as the workplace, then the higher one gets in the hierarchy the more the hunger for power increases.
    Just as an aside. the local police is rampant with nepotism. So if Dad or brother got away with it, I can too.

  • Boxturtle

    I sure don’t remember it when I was a kid, HOWEVER a minority living in the 1960’s just might have a different viewpoint.

    And we have become more vicious and less caring. Violence on TV? Violence in movies?

    Boxturtle (Blame anything except bad parenting and social pressures)

  • oldhippiejan

    Good morning Canyon2. I remember the ’68 Democratic convention in Chicago. Cops beat the living hell out of protesters. I’m not sure if it’s been going on for a long time, but to answer your question about “a more vicious society”. Yes. In some cities, it is illegal to feed the homeless and hungry. Can’t get much more vicious than that.

  • Canyon2

    Good morning oldhippiejan.
    Left you a reply on yesterday’s topic as I missed your comment until this morning when e-mail told me I had a message.
    I do remember the ’68 Democratic convention in Chicago and it was not a pleasant sight for any of us.

  • Canyon2

    Thanks BoxTurtle. You and oldhippiejan gave me some insight on my question. I always respected the police in every form from Park District, State, to city police but it sure has changed. Sure there have been rogue cops always but to shoot people in store aisles for checking out a BB gun, shooting little boys playing with toy guns has become more of the norm lately imho.
    oldhippiejan mentions downthread that you strap a gun on someone, give them a badge and they are all powerful and I am paraphrasing what she said but you get the idea. There are some folks who should never wear a uniform.

  • oldhippiejan

    Glad you got my message. The ’68 convention is something we old folks vividly remember and is forever imbedded in our memories. Our generation was dying for nothing, much like today.

  • Canyon2

    Well said oldhippiejan, well said.
    I have a grandson that will be home on leave before he ships out again to the Middle East and I am not happy about it at all.

  • Alice X

    Has it been going on for a long time? Has anyone heard of the Haymarket massacre of 1886?

    But I suspect that wasn’t the first.

    The Haymarket Affair and the Origins of May Day

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/8834-the-haymarket-affair-and-the-origins-of-may-day

  • Boxturtle

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that’s sure part of it.

    Police work attracts the power hungry, I guess.

    But our crooks are getting more violent, too. And some of the police violence is a response to that. I wonder what a prison warden of 40 years ago would think of the discipline files of the folks who’ve been put in supermax? Whould it be “Geez, I’ve never even heard of that level of violence” or “I’ve never seen sociopaths that evil in my entire career” or would it be “Yep, happened all the time, good that we have a place that can hold ’em safely”?

    Boxturtle (Would love to have enough power to worry about being corrupted)

  • Alice X

    (Maybe it’s time we started drafting politicians and paying them minimum wage)

    That will fix the corruption problem for sure. Same with police and most every purported public servant.

    As one Philly commentator was remembered to wryly remark on a corruption probe, we know they are corrupt, we give them an envelope, they do something!

  • dubinsky

    what we call police brutality used to be the norm

  • oldhippiejan

    Bull Connor. “power”, if I ruled the kingdom, things would be much different Of course I would be promptly assassinated.

  • oldhippiejan

    Best of luck to your grandson. You mentioned “again”. How many deployments?

  • oldhippiejan

    Oh yes. but it has been buried by the current crop of history books (Shh, we mustn’t mention anything ugly about ‘Murika.

  • Molly

    And the out-of-control police kill another Black Muslim man, and the media joyfully report (with no evidence) that he was part of a “terror cell.”

    In Boston, Media Again Trash a Police Shooting Victim by Uncritically ‘Reporting’ Police Accusations

  • Molly

    That’s what I meant…he just sits there. And it may have moved to the hallway, but it began literally under the judge’s nose. He could have stopped it immediately.

  • Alice X

    Hi Jan – how are your knees?

  • Frederick Leatherman

    I believe assaults by jailers increased sharply after the CIA and the military openly embraced torture after 9/11. Unlike most of us, who were horrified by the abuses at Abu Ghraib, they got off on it and have been sneering ever since.

  • oldhippiejan

    Hi Alice, been away for awhile, trying to clear some cobwebs and a little sprucing up. My cousin is visiting Friday and don’t want her and her husband to think I live like a pig. She won’t notice, nearly blind, but the husband might.
    Thus far the knees are doing pretty good, thanks for asking. I got shots in both as well as one hip. The saw bones also gave me some Vicodin and an anti-inflammatory. Don’t take the pain pills unless a necessity, but I can take my morning walks again which is so cathartic. Helps to clear my muddled, cluttered head. The down side is the dr. said there is no guarantee how long this will last, could be one month or one year. Hoping for the one year end. But there are certain hoops they must jump through for Medicare, he’d like to have to have an MRI, but there are those pesky hoops.
    On the Haymarket Affair, in Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’ he goes into that quite a bit. I went to a library sale a few years back and found a book that dealt soley with that subject. Unfortunately it got put into someone else’s pile and I never got it. I was one pissed off old woman and afraid I made a bit of an ass of myself. Oh well, not the first, won’t be the last.

  • Frederick Leatherman

    I disagree. I don’t believe guarding inmates is hazardous duty. They get off on intimidating inmates and they know they can get away with torturing and killing them, so they do.

    The jailers in the Denver jail are deputy sheriffs (i.e., cops). Police and sheriff departments are hiring ex-military. My guess is more than a few new hires have experience intimidating and torturing Iraqi and Afghan captives.

    It’s a bully culture and it’s everywhere in all the institutions and the streets..

  • Frederick Leatherman

    It’s more accepted and widespread now.

  • Frederick Leatherman

    Chicago has always been a horror show.

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    Good belated morning. It’s still morning here.

    Getting old is a drag, so much with which to deal. I keep getting more and more input that my body is going to hell in a handbasket, and by the way, you haven’t had a ____(fill in the blanks) test yet. Oops! we found something else. So on….

  • Canyon2

    I think that is one of the best answers Masoninblue.
    “It’s more accepted and widespread now…” sure makes it seem okay to do it.

  • Canyon2

    This will be his 3rd in a never ending war.
    Thank you for asking oldhippiejan.

  • Frederick Leatherman

    Depresses me to say that, but it’s true, and it’s going to be damn difficult to change.

  • oldhippiejan

    Does seem so. I remember reading of the horror stories way back when it was a major meat packing city. Hasn’t gotten any better, Apparently their politicians seem to be crooked and too stupid to avoid getting caught. I think we can safely add the man sitting in the White House to that category as well.

  • oldhippiejan

    That’s our wonderful for profit medical system at it’s finest. Took 5 doctors, more damn tests than I could count, some duplicated of course, and 9 long miserable months to diagnose a very pedestrian case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome for me. I know what you’re going through. Yes getting old is hell, one part or another giving out.. Best of luck.

  • oldhippiejan

    Then I’d say he’s more than done his share. Remember that old saying, “that if the old men that start the wars actually had to fight them, there would be no more war.”?

  • Canyon2

    My fault on missing your comment to respond. Went outside to do the never ending yard work.
    Hope you get this message and your saying about old men starting wars… Is so true.