DENVER — A Denver police officer who was fired for using excessive force against a female suspect inside a holding cell should get his job back after a ruling by a Civil Service Commission hearing officer that was announced Thursday.
James Medina was fired in March, but he appealed. Hearing officer Terry Tomsick ruled the officer should only serve a 60-day suspension and be placed on probation for two years.
Medina should be reinstated and be owed back pay to June 3, according to the ruling. The city and county of Denver has 15 days to appeal the ruling to the full Civil Service Commission.
“While we respect the authority of Civil Service hearing officers, we do not agree with the determination that officer Medina’s due process rights were violated,” said Daelene Mix, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.
“Given the facts of the case, we maintain termination is appropriate and will appeal the hearing officer’s decision to the full commission and request a stay of the officer’s reinstatement and back pay until the appeal is heard.”
In July 2014, Seryina Trujillo was arrested after interfering with officers and firefighters as they took a man to the Denver Cares detox unit.
Medina’s disciplinary report said Trujillo was handcuffed and spit in the face of officer Cheryl Smith as she was being led to a police car.
The report also said that as Trujillo was being placed in the patrol car, she kicked Medina in the face, prompting him to punch her in the face.
After arriving at the District 2 substation, Trujillo refused to remove her belt and shoes. She and Medina got into a struggle in the cell that was captured by a video camera.
Medina was heard telling Trujillo to not bite him as he pinned her to take off the belt and shoes. Medina put his knee on Trujillo’s neck, the report said.