DENVER — Two sheriff’s deputies and a watch commander have been disciplined for the in-custody death of Michael Marshall, the Denver Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
Although no charges were filed by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, a multiagency investigation found the three — deputy Breat Garegnani, deputy Carlos Hernandez and Capt. James Johnson — violated department policies and procedures, and will be suspended from 10 to 16 days.
Representatives for the Marshall family spoke out about the decision in a news conference.
“The community ought to be outraged,” a lawyer for the family said.
“If that’s what they think accountability is, we have a problem,” a family member said. “Justice is not two weeks’ vacation so you can think about what you did.”
“Ten to 16 days? Ten to 16 days’ suspension? And they tortured my uncle,” Natalia Marshall said. “He died a slow, tortuous death. No one deserves that.”
Rev. Tammy Williams with the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance called the decision an “atrocity.”
“We are asking for justice. What is wrong with getting justice?” Williams said. “What is wrong with asking them to be held accountable?”
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All three can appeal the suspensions to the Career Service Hearing Office.
“The tragic death of Mr. Marshall and the time it has taken to complete a thorough review of the incident has been difficult for his loved ones and for everyone involved,” executive director of safety Stephanie O’Malley said.
“The Sheriff Department takes its charge to ensure the safety and security of Denver’s jails seriously, and when someone dies, the entire department, family members, and the greater community feel the gravity of the tragic outcome.”
Marshall was arrested on Nov. 7, 2015, on a trespassing charge. He was booked into the Downtown Detention Center and assigned a special management housing unit.
Two days later, he was behaving “in a manic and erratic manner,” according to medical personnel. On Nov. 11, Marshall continued to display erratic behavior even when he was out of his cell.
He then aggressively approached another inmate and two deputies intervened. Marshall was taken to a nearby sally port to be away from the other inmates.
Officials said Marshall attempted to leave the sally port area when Garegnani put his hand on Marshall’s chest and pushed him away. Marshall’s back was against a wall when he began to slide sideways to the ground.
Garegnani grabbed Marshall’s upper arm to keep him from falling and to put him back on a bench.
Another deputy came to assist Garegnani, but Marshall leaned forward, and he and the deputies went to the ground where a struggle ensued. He was eventually handcuffed and put in leg iron restraints.
Marshall became limp and unresponsive, and deputies put him back down and turned him on his side. Deputies then noticed Marshall had vomited and medical assistance was requested.
A nurse directed Marshall to be placed in a seated position where it was determined he was not breathing. The deputies removed the restraint straps and lifted Marshall to the ground, where CPR was performed for 20 minutes.
An attempt to intubate failed because of the excess vomit in Marshall’s airway. He was taken to Denver Health Medical Center, but he died on Nov. 20.
An autopsy determined Marshall died from positional asphyxia to include aspiration pneumonia. Chronic heart disease and chronic lung disease were contributing factors in Marshall’s death.
In January 2016, then-Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey reviewed the case and announced there will be no criminal charges brought against the deputies.
RELATED: Marshall decision statement
The Executive Director of Safety’s Office completed a monthslong review and determined Garegnani should be suspended 16 days, and Johnson and Hernandez for 10 days for violating department procedures.