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New videos show alleged cases of excessive force at Denver Jail

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DENVER -- The Denver Manager of Safety's office released two new videos showing separate incidents inside the Denver Jail Friday. That happened just as a federal judge accepted a settlement where the city will pay a record $3.25 million to a former jail inmate who was abused in the jail and then sued the city.

The videos are newly released but they are several years old. The city says its new policy is to release these videos after the discipline process is complete.

Both are hard to watch and both raise continued questions about the culture that is tolerated at Denver Jail. You can see them in Justin Joseph's video report above.

One is from December 2012 in which inmate Robbie Martinez approaches deputy Steven Valerio who is sitting behind a desk. Unprovoked, it appears Valerio lashes out and hits the inmate. He then rushes around and as the inmate cowers, deputy Valerio takes him down and strikes him repeatedly.

Valerio was fired. He is now appealing that decision.

The second video is from September 2013. Inmate Isaiah Moreno is on suicide watch. After he beats his head against a wall a large number of Denver Sheriff's deputies are in the cell with their Tasers drawn.

According to official discipline reports, as the inmate sits calmly, Sgt. Ned St. Germain orders deputies to fire, knocking Moreno to the ground unconscious. Sgt. St. Germain was suspended. He is also appealing his discipline.

Three other deputies received written warning for not filing any paperwork about the use of force.

"I'm a citizen of this city and every one of these stories take a little from me," Mayor Michael Hancock said on Monday. That was during a news conference in which he announced that Sheriff Dough Wilson resigned.

Now, just five days later, the Denver Manager of Safety's office releases these videos.

Earlier in the week the mayor made the decision to change direction after a string of excessive force incidents culminated in the $3.25 million payout to Jamal Hunter for the beating he received in jail in 2011. The announcement of the record-setting settlement happened Wednesday.

Analysts say the massive sum is an effort to keep other damning evidence of official misconduct from going public at trial.

A federal judge approved the settlement Friday. "There's a lot of things going on here and my guess is the judge wanted to compel the city to do certain things are a result of this settlement," says legal analyst Dan Recht.

But Judge John Kane is so outraged that he earlier called for a federal investigation of the Denver Jail, the Denver Police Department and the Denver City Attorney's office.


    • L Berry

      You hit the nail on the head! Kudos to the Mayor who is doing his best to break through the wall of silence that obviously permeates throughout the Denver PD AND the Denver Sheriff’s Office. Please remember that only by keeping Mayor Hancock and others like him in office, will these types of abuses be brought to light. Let’s all do our best to keep those like Former Sheriff Wilson OUT OF OFFICE! We do have a choice. VOTE!

    • Geoffrey

      But this is NOT denver PD! This is Denver Sheriffs dept Not the same departments. Not even the same big bosses. Try not to act retarded!

  • Mike Austin

    The incident where the inmate was tased is not excessive force. Please look at the total picture and ask yourself what you would do in that situation. #1 The inmate was on suicide watch (that means he was threatening to hurt or kill himself). #2 The inmate had been banging his head against a brick wall (he needed to be stopped for his protection). #3 The deputies had brought a restraint chair to place him in for his safety. #4 There were three options for moving him into the chair (have him move voluntarily, have the team of deputies go in and physically move him, or tase him and cuff him and move him to the chair).

    Ideally it would have been nice if the inmate would have complied to verbal commands and allowed the deputies to move him. It appears the inmate was not in a mood to cooperate.

    The second option was then to have the deputies go in a pull him to his feet and force him into the chair. This sounds simple, but it is not. If the inmate resists and fights the deputies, he is very likely to get hurt by the deputies trying to control him. There is also a very real chance that one of the deputies could get hurt in the scuffle. There is a possibility of heads hitting the brick wall or sprains or broken bones.

    The third option is to tase him (once it is clear he will not cooperate). This option allows the deputies to quickly gain control of the inmate. This is the option the sergeant chose. The reasons the taser was fired twice is because the thick smock the inmate was wearing likely insulated the first taser.

    There was a fourth option. They could have allowed him to continue to bang his head against the brick wall.

    • Anonymous

      Your so full of shit!!! You never in that situation like.. I was beating when I was in hand cuffs yeah take shit to far,,,

  • dougsmith42

    How about some audio? Sure bet the first guy was talking dirty to the female officer.
    More like, time to remove cameras from jails. If it’s a piece of sh*t, treat it like a piece of sh*t.

    Think about how you would treat sc*m on a daily basis? Time for a full country reinstatement of immediate executions instead of life in prison, and no tolerance charges to make people understand that 1 time is 1 too many times. Wishful thinking.

  • Geoffrey

    What would be great is if people stopped being arrested and having to go to jail. If people woke up and did the right thing everyday things would be great!

    • Justice4

      Wow if it only it were that easy just wake up and do the right thing. What if you have an accident someone dies God forbid you should end up here cause I guess you should have done the right thing. Jails are filled will people that deserve our justice system to work the way it is suppose to nothing about having your rights violated.

  • John Soln

    40% of American Males have a non-vehicular crime record (Source: Univ of South Carolina, link below), go to a pre-school and ask yourself are 40% of the boys here criminals? Or maybe are police forces are justifying there massive costs by arresting as many our men as possible? Our government has created so many laws that the police can arrest you at any time they would like, think of how many crimes your committee every day. In the polices eyes you are their next customer, they do not care about right or wrong, just arrest as many of us as they can. Crime in the US has fallen every year for 25 years, and the police unions know this, and need to make it up by arrest innocent citizens. Are police forces are no longer the friends of the American citizens. Next time you votes, please vote out the police and their unions. Denver Police Department is one of the worst in the country, and Denver most violent and lethal gangs. Just google Denver Police beating and enjoy the hundreds of articles and YouTube videos of police and their violent ways.

  • Horrible Reporting

    First off Justin Joseph please report accurately! There is a second camera angle that shows the inmate pushing the phone at Deputy Valerio so that incident was not unprovoked. Why are you not showing that part of the video? Second, the TASER incident was not unprovoked as well. Inmate Moreno was hurting himself prior to the use of the Taser and was not cooperative when asked to sit in the restraint chair. You make these officers seem guilty when you do not have the entire story ! You choose to sensationalize bits and pieces of the story without all the facts! Very poor reporting skills. You should be ashamed of yourself. Also Sherrif Wilson’s first name is Gary, not Doug….just saying!

  • Maggie Crail

    The jails are being filled with people with mental problems There is not enough time or staff to handle them effectively. Having had more than two decades in law enforcement it appears to me that everything was done correctly in the cell extraction event. No one got hurt and the inmate was prevented from injuring himself. In order to make his decisions, Sergeant would have had a lot of information that the media hasn’t related about the inmate’s criminal background, institutional history, current charges, etc. To bad the Sheriff Department brass and the Office of the Internal Monitor don’t back up their good officers while getting rid of the bad. Since many of the disciplinary decision are overturned, it would cost the city a lot less if they did so. By the way this is the 2nd time that Justin Joseph has gotten Sheriff Gary Wilson’s name wrong.

  • mari

    We’ll the police ,sheriff’s office the government in general are the biggest gangs in the world .yes I do believe some people do deserve to go to jail like child molester’s but that doesn’t seem to happen to much .just cause your in jail doesn’t mean your not human & don’t have rights I don’t care if your in prison not everybody there is a piece of shit just made bad choices but that doesn’t mean someone in a position of power could take that & run with it half of them sheriff’s or co wouldn’t dare to any of that alone or on the street .& if it was anybody else they would be arrested funny how they cover for each other but when anybody else does it’s a crime .

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