Two Denver police officers fired over excessive force, beating of gay man


DENVER — Two Denver police officers were dismissed on Friday for their involvement in a controversial beating a gay man almost two years ago that was captured on police surveillance video.

Mayor Guillermo Vidal and Manager of Safety Charles Garcia made the announcement Friday, indicating the officers used “inappropriate” force, and then lied about the incident in official documents.

Reuters reports:

The flap stemmed from an April 2009 incident when Michael DeHerrera and his partner, Shawn Johnson, were detained by police after Johnson was ejected from a bar in lower downtown Denver.

Murr and Sparks said in their police reports that the men were belligerent, and force was required to subdue them.

But a city surveillance camera showed DeHerrera talking on a cell phone when Sparks suddenly hurled him to the ground and pummeled the prone man with a sap, a metal rod wrapped in leather.

“We cannot and do not tolerate dishonesty in any safety agency which is why it holds the most severe penalty in the discipline matrix,” said Garcia.

“When the word of an officer can not be taken as truth, or when an officer abuses his or her authority, immeasurable harm is done to the image of the entire department,” he added.

The video, via the Denver Post, can be seen here:

It’s interesting how the camera suddenly pans out to a wide shot the nearby traffic as soon as the beating commences, then zooms back to the incident once DeHerrera is in custody.

DeHerrera’s father, a Pueblo, Colo., Sheriff’s Deputy, publicly called for the officers’ firing. But in August, 2010, the former Denver Manager of Safety, Ron Perea, said that the officers should be suspended, not fired for their actions in the beating.

Garcia, the new Manger of Safety, determined otherwise.

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