Trust and respect are important for the safety of communities and their law enforcement officers. Negative news headlines impact the way the two groups interact and trust can be rebuilt through positive interaction and the reduction of police brutality.

 

Public perception matters.

Regaining public trust and support is a mammoth task for the Denver Police Department in recent years.  They have tried to change public perception through “use of force” policy changes, de-escalation training and community outreach initiatives.  While the Denver Police Department has changed its “use of force” policy, directing police to avoid rushing into volatile situations through techniques that reduce weapon use against alleged criminals, the use of excessive force continues to manifest itself with physical violence. The case of Michael DeHerrera, who was hit more than nine times with a leather club as he laid in a noncombative fetal position during a police encounter, represents negative police actions by Officers Murr and Sparks, who lied in their arrest report, but video footage revealed the beating that prompted a civil rights action resulting in a jury award to Mr. DeHerrera in the amount of $17,500.

Department actions.

Administrative termination actions by the Denver Police Department were not consistent with reprimands that were given initially for the offense, including a suspension and return to duty, causing a “double jeopardy” scenario for two fired police officers after that police brutality encounter over 10 years ago.  If the Colorado Supreme does not hear the case or affirms the Colorado Court of Appeals decision, the officers could receive back pay for the ten years since termination, and the city may have to offer their jobs back.  This case settlement would most certainly yield an award much higher than the $17,500 Mr. DeHerrera received, but more importantly is an example of bad actions being rewarded, leaving the victim and the community concerned that officers can get away with violations of civil rights.

Federal laws.

Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action their jurisdictions, addressing illegal willful actions undertaken while using the power vested in them by a governmental agency.  The phrase that defines this power is “under color of law.” It is a crime to deprive another person of their protected rights under United States Constitution (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242), and criminal and civil legal action can be initiated to remedy the injustice with the possibility of fines and/or prison time.

Community trust.

Maintaining safety and building community trust can be achieved through: 1. consistent updates to policy; 2. holding departments liable for negligence; 3. officer screenings for implicit bias and aggression; 4. collaborations with community toward building mutual respect; 5. use of video cameras; 6. follow through on complaints; and 7. reporting community encounter data to the Department of Justice.

Hire an attorney.

If you, or someone you love has been a victim of police brutality through excessive force leaving you injured, you should seek legal counsel to review the incident and guide you through your legal options. You may file a formal complaint to the police department itself, and further civil or criminal lawsuits. Contact experienced attorney Andrew T. Brake, who has successfully represented clients in the Denver Metropolitan area since 1983, to review your case and inform you of possible damages due to you for hospital/medical expenses; emotional distress, depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; and physical pain and suffering for any injury caused during your arrest.

Andrew T. Brake, P.C.
3615 S. Tamarac Drive, Suite 200
Denver, Colorado 80237Phone:  303-806-9000

Sources:

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/06/03/denver-police-firing-deherrera-supreme-court/

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title18-section242&num=0&edition=prelim

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title18-section241&num=0&edition=prelim