Denver City Council approves record $6 million payment in Marvin Booker jail death

Surveillance video of Denver deputies struggling with Marvin Booker in July 2010

Surveillance video shows Denver Sheriff’s deputies struggling with Marvin Booker in July 2010. (Credit: Denver Sheriff’s Office)

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DENVER — After a long legal process, the Denver City Council Monday night approved a $6 million settlement for Marvin Booker’s family. This comes as another deputy has been placed on leave following new allegations.

Booker, a homeless street preacher, died in jail following a struggle with officers after his arrest.

His family filed a lawsuit that claimed excessive force was used against him, and a jury agreed.

It happened in July 2010 and a surveillance camera recorded the incident when four Sheriff’s department deputies and one sergeant struggled with Booker.

The 56-year-old had been arrested on drug charges. He died shortly after deputies shocked him with a Taser and then pinned him down.

Since that time, Booker’s family pursued an excessive force case and after four years, a federal judge awarded them $4.65 million. “He didn’t deserve what those five sheriff’s deputies done to him that night, and the jury spoke very, very, very clear. They used excessive force against my brother,” Spencer Booker said.

Denver city attorneys initially filed a motion asking the judge to lower the amount, but in November, the city opted to pay the entire amount.

With an additional $1.3 million going to legal fees the settlement will cost the city $6 million. It’s the largest ever paid in Colorado and only the most recent in a string of lawsuits against Denver law enforcement.

In August the city paid former jail inmate Jamal Hunter $3.2 million after he accused deputies of brutality.

Another jury awarded the Martinez family $1.8 million in September. They sued saying Denver police mistakenly hit them in a raid.

Attorneys for the Booker family say they hope law enforcement gets the message that brutality won’t be tolerated.

The payment will cost each taxpayer in Denver about $10. The money will come from the city’s contingency fund.

As for the new allegation against a sheriff’s deputy, a source confirmed Monday that the new accusation of excessive force is the result of the use of a chokehold against a jail inmate last week. The inmate went to the hospital and a Sergeant is on investigatory leave.

The Sheriff’s Department released the following statement abut the latest incident: “The inmate is OK. As the incident is under the internal affairs investigation, the department cannot discuss details of what occurred.”


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