Jury: $4.65M to Marvin Booker’s family after jail death of street preacher

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 — In July 2010, surveillance video captured footage of several Denver Sheriff’s deputies restraining homeless street preacher Marvin Booker at the Denver Jail.

Officers reportedly used a choke hold and stun gun to subdue him. Booker died at the hospital.

On Tuesday, a federal jury awarded Booker’s family $4.65 million, an award that included punitive damages, funeral costs and the loss of enjoyment of life.

The seven-member jury began deliberations Friday before coming to the Tuesday verdict.

One of Booker’s attorneys had originally suggested an award of $15 million to send a clear message to Denver officials.

It seems several of the messages have been heeded by the Denver Sheriff’s Office, the department that runs the jail, in the last three months. Part of the response was the resignation of former sheriff Gary Wilson.

The deputies involved in the Booker incident had previously been seeking legal immunity in the case. A federal panel of three judges denied their request in March.

“We’re very excited that finally, even though Denver has been trying to avoid accountability for this, a jury was permitted to assess their conduct,” Booker family attorney Darold Killmer said.

Lawyers for the city of Denver maintained throughout the trial, which began on Sept. 22, that Booker initiated the conflict by not obeying reasonable orders, and that his death occurred because of underlying medical ailments  linked to habitual cocaine use.

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