Denver agrees to $4.6 million settlement to family of inmate killed in jail
DENVER — The city of Denver will pay the family of Michael Marshall, an inmate who was killed by sheriff’s deputies in 2015 at the downtown jail, $4.6 million in a settlement announced Wednesday morning.
The deal still must be approved by the Denver City Council next week.
Besides the monetary payout, the settlement includes a requirement to change policies, training and staffing at the Denver Sheriff Department, which manages the city’s two jails, according to the Kilmer, Lane & Newman law firm which represents the family.
Two full-time positions for on-site mental health providers will be created to be at the downtown jail and the Denver County Jail on Smith Road.
There will be in-service training annually for the sheriff’s department for all deputies regarding mental illness in the jails as well as annual training on how deputies deal with inmates who have a mental illness.
“The family is very glad that Denver has agreed to provide mental health treatment in the jails,” Marshall’s brother Rodney Marshall said.
“If Michael could have been treated as a man in medical need instead of like a criminal who was disobeying orders, he would still be alive today.”
Marshall, 50, was arrested in November 2015 for trespassing. He was being held at the Can Cise-Simonet Detention Center when an incident occurred causing several deputies to pin him to the ground.
A report of the incident said Marshall was resisting the deputies. Several deputies held him on the ground for 13 minutes before being placed in a restraint chair.
At some point, Marshall vomited and then choked while being held face down, causing his heart to stop.
Jail staff performed CPR on him for 20 minutes before he was taken to Denver Health Medical Center in an ambulance. Marshall died in the hospital nine days later.
“After extensive evaluation of the facts and the possible outcomes of a costly trial, we made the difficult decision to propose a multifaceted settlement,” City Attorney Kristin Bronson said in a statement.
“Mr. Marshall’s death has had a significant impact on his family, the community and the Denver Sheriff Department, including the involved deputies.
“We hope the settlement we’ve proposed to City Council will foster an environment of collective healing, as well as bolster the city’s ongoing efforts in its jails to accommodate inmates who suffer from mental health issues.”
Two sheriff’s deputies and a watch commander were suspended without pay for their roles in Marshall’s death.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office declined to file any charges in the case.
With Wednesday’s announcement, the city will have paid out more than $19 million the past three years to settle claims against the Denver police and sheriff departments.
Included in the payouts was a jury awarding the family of Marvin Booker $4.65 million in punitive damages and another $1.35 million in legal fees; a $3.25 million settlement with Jamal Hunter; $1.8 million to Daniel Martinez’s family; and $999,999 to Jessica Hernandez’s family.