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No discipline for officers in Denver Zoo death case

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DENVER — None of the 8 Denver police officers involved in the death of a man at the Denver Zoo this past summer will face disciplinary action, Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez announced Friday.

Alonzo Ashley, 29, died on July 18, 2011 after fighting with zoo security and police officers who used a stun gun in an effort to subdue him.

Temperatures were in the upper 90s at the time and, while witnesses said Ashley appeared to be intoxicated and delusional, the coroner found no hard drugs in his system.

“After a thorough review of the investigation and after considering the recommendations of the Office of the Independent Monitor and the Chief of Police, we conclude the officers did not violate the Department’s Use of Force policy or any other Department rules or any laws with regard to the use of force,” stated Manager of Safety Alex Martinez and Deputy Manager Ashley Kilroy. “Throughout their contact with Mr. Ashley the officers used appropriate tactics and the least amount of force necessary in response to his actions, including initial attempts to avoid and de-escalate the use of force before it was necessary.”

The case drew outrage from Ashley’s family members and community leaders who viewed it as another case of police brutality.

“They’re above the law right now,” Lendell Ashley, Alonzo’s brother, told reporters in October when the coroner’s report was first released. “The police can do anything that they want to do … they can beat up on people, they can do anything they want to do.”

In supporting the Manager of Safety’s decision, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Friday offered his condolences to Ashley’s family.

“His death was an unfortunate loss to our community and I want to assure the public that the Department of Safety conducted a comprehensive, fair and accurate review as timely as possible,” said Hancock. “It is my expectation that the same attention and fairness will be applied to all use of force cases.”

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