DENVER (KDVR) — Seven Denver sheriff’s deputies who helped capture an inmate after a brief but daring escape were given Valor Awards in a morning press conference at the downtown detention center.
Sheriff Elias Diggins and Public Safety Director Murphy Robinson placed medals around the necks of the seven deputies involved in the capture of inmate Damian Lynch.
“Their actions were swift, courageous and selfless in the face of unknown danger,” said Diggins during a Thursday morning ceremony attended by deputies and their family members.
Lynch spoke exclusively to FOX31 on Sept. 7 detailing his Sept. 2 escape.
FOX31 spoke again to Lynch following the Thursday press conference, through a video monitor at the downtown detention center.
When informed that seven deputies had been given awards for capturing him, the 24-year-old inmate immediately broke into laughter and said, “Awarded for police brutality and for doing their job.”
Lynch maintains he was already giving up when deputies used excessive force on him.
“He hit me over the head while I was handcuffed. And as I was trying to give up he tased me in the back. He put the nunchucks on my arm and was trying to break my arms,” Lynch said.
Diggins said he’s not giving out awards to cover for misconduct. While he’s aware that Lynch had facial injuries and needed to be treated at Denver Health Medical Center after his capture, he denied that deputies used excessive force.
“It suggests that he suffered an injury. How that injury occurred was not at the hands of these deputies,” said Diggins.
Three deputies remain under investigation for failing to see Lynch roll under an inmate transfer bus as inmates were being loaded for a trip from the downtown detention center to the county jail on Smith Road.
Lynch hung onto to the underside of the bus as it drove north on Speer Boulevard until rolling out near Blake Street and running into a drainage tunnel along the Cherry Creek bike trail.
Two deputies in a sheriff’s van that was following the inmate transfer bus saw Lynch run toward Cherry Creek and immediately called the department’s Emergency Response Unit.
It was those two deputies and five members of the E.R.U. that were awarded medals of valor for capturing Lynch.
Deputies in the Emergency Response Unit are assigned body cameras but the sheriff would not say if the deputies involved in capturing Lynch activated their body cams.
Diggins told FOX31 the three deputies under investigation for the escape are not among the seven deputies who were recognized Thursday morning.
When asked if it was embarrassing that Lynch was able to roll under a bus sight unseen, Diggins responded, “Obviously any time you have something like that, it’s not a good day for the Denver Sheriff’s Department. Today what we’re celebrating is that these deputies sprung into action and were very heroic in brining Mr. Lynch back into custody.”
Lynch told FOX31 he felt the award ceremony was an attempt by the sheriff to put a positive spin on embarrassing circumstances.
“Of course,” said Lynch.
Lynch was originally arrested for attempted murder after Denver police say he shot someone outside a strip club.
Lynch says he’s innocent of the shooting.
He’s scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 18.
There is no word from the Department of Public Safety as to when the internal affairs investigation into the escape will be complete.