Denver judge to take final look at use-of-force case before statute of limitations runs out


Courtroom altercation in Denver in 2012. Sheriff’s deputy was suspended 30 days

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DENVER -- A judge has agreed to take a rare, final look into a use-of-force incident that happened inside a Denver courtroom three years ago, and he’s ordering the Denver district attorney to explain why he never pursued charges.

The Denver Sheriff's Department suspended deputy Brady Lovingier after he slammed Anthony Waller into a window in 2012, but District Attorney Mitch Morrissey never filed criminal charges.

The incident will exceed the three-year statute of limitations for criminal prosecution late Friday afternoon, which is why District Court Judge William Martinez has called a hearing at 2 p.m.

When Lovingier grabbed inmate Anthony Waller by his shackles and slammed him into a window inside a Denver courtroom in 2012, he received a 30-day suspension and an internal investigation found “no legitimate reason” for his use of force.

"It was uncalled for, unjustified,” Waller's attorney Kenneth Padilla said. “There were no threats to the officer and he actually interfered with the entire court process."

But despite the video and audio evidence, as well as eyewitnesses, Morrissey never pursued criminal charges, providing very little explanation about why that decision was made.

"They check a box and the box said, 'No likelihood of conviction in this case,’” Padilla said. “That is ridiculous. There's a great likelihood of conviction given the documentary evidence that we have."

That's why Padilla filed a rare petition asking for judicial review of the case. On Wednesday, hours after a rally for Waller, Martinez granted a hearing and ordered Morrissey into court to explain his reasoning.

"What we have is a broken system of accountability," Padilla said.

Morrissey has not responded to FOX31 Denver's request for an interview and according to his office, despite the order, he will not be attending the hearing on Friday, electing to send one of his deputies to represent the office instead.

"I'm very disappointed that Mr. Morrissey has decided that this is not important and part of his job and duties," Padilla said. "I think it's very important to the community."

If Martinez disagrees with the district attorney's reasoning for not pursuing charges, he could order Morrissey to file charges, but he could also appoint a special prosecutor, which Padilla is seeking.

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