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Sheriff’s deputy attacked at Denver jail; union says other inmates stopped attack

DENVER -- A Denver sheriff’s deputy is recovering after being attacked in the Denver County Jail and it was caught on tape.

The Denver Fraternal Order of Police says it was a brutal attack that the group says never should have happened. The attack took place on the fourth floor of the Denver County Jail.

The sheriff’s union says the deputy was blindsided when he was hit over the head with a milk crate.

"Several inmates had to come to the aid of the officer because the officer was down. and the officer was being choked out," union vice president Michael Britton said.

The deputy was taken to Denver Health Medical Center and has been released. The sheriff’s union says the assault is unacceptable.

"Everyone finds an excuse as to why we are having problems in this jail and nobody has any concrete plan or any direction on how to solve this. Because we just hope it goes away," Britton said.

The inmate accused of the assault -- 25-year-old Cether Watkins -- was jailed along with two other men for allegedly robbing customers and staff at gunpoint at the Starbucks on East Hampden last month.

Court records show everyone at the coffee shop was ordered to “produce their wallets, phones and money.”

Watkins was among 60 inmates being watched by the single deputy -- a ratio the sheriff’s department says meets standards.

“We have also implemented best practices and national models in jail administration that are aimed toward improving how our deputies interact with inmates in our care and custody," the sheriff's department said in a statement.

So far this year, 97 physical assaults on 48 staff members have occurred at the jail.

Deputies say overcrowding is an issue, training is substandard and too many high-risk prisoners are allowed out of their pods at one time.

The union is calling for the resignation of the sheriff. Investigators say the assault is under review.

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