Two Denver Officers in Taped Beating Fired


The Denver Manager of Safety has fired two police officers accused of a beating caught on camera.

The officers -- Devin Sparks and Randy Murr -- are accused of beating Michael DeHerrera in Lower Downtown Denver in April 2009.

Sparks and Murr have been fired as a result of "their deceptive acts," said the new Manager of Safety Charles Garcia.

"We cannot and do not tolerate dishonesty in any safety agency," Garcia said. "I am not going to comment on the investigation. This case is currently set for what I anticipate to be an appeal. And so, I won't intend at any point to talk about either the facts of the case or any decision-making process."

DeHerrera and his father, who is also police officer in Pueblo, were in the room when Garcia made his announcement, 7NEWS Reporter Marshall Zelinger said. DeHerrera told Zelinger that they didn't know of the firings until now.

"I was hoping for it, I wasn't expecting it. It's been a long time," DeHerrera said. "Any victory, such as just this one, if that's what they're fired for, it's still a victory for us."

7NEWS broke this story last year and was the first to air the videotape of the April 4, 2009 beating.

Mayor Bill Vidal said he supports Garcia's decision 100 percent.

"This is, after all, what we want. We want to keep our citizens safe," Vidal said.

As to why it took nearly two years for the officers to be fired, Vidal said, "Sometimes the process can take longer than we like."

Vidal said the investigation into the case has been complex and he wasn't planning to hold a news conference every time officers get disciplined. Vidal said he wants officers to know he knows they have difficult jobs, and he has confidence in their ability and their actions.

Garcia said he hopes the incident doesn't tarnish the image of the Denver Police Department.

Police Chief, Independent Monitor Had Recommended Firing

Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman had recommended on March 15 that Sparks be fired and Murr be suspended for three days.

Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor had recommended in August 2010 that both Sparks and Murr be fired for lying in the investigation and using excessive force.

The manager of safety at the time, Ron Perea, only disciplined the officers for filing an inaccurate police report about the incident.

A police video of the incident shows DeHerrera standing on the corner talking on the phone for some time while police arrest his friend, Shawn Johnson, 25.

The tape then shows Sparks grab DeHerrera and take him to the ground, but the video pans wide as officers subdue DeHerrera. After the camera pulls to a wide shot, you can see officers hitting DeHerrera, but it is impossible to tell if DeHerrera is struggling.

The video zooms back in as police lead the bloodied suspects to a police car.

The city settled with DeHerrera and Johnson for a total of $15,500, and photographs in the case show injuries to DeHerrera's face.

Murr was suspended for three days without pay for violating a provision requiring truthful and accurate information in police reports, and Sparks fined 24 hours for the same violation, records show.

A variety of charges against Johnson and DeHerrera, including assault and resisting arrest, were dropped.

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