Video shows deputies piling on inmate; Denver Sheriff Department conducting internal investigation

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — An investigation is underway at the Denver Sheriff Department after jail surveillance video of an October 2019 altercation showed at least 11 deputies piling onto an inmate in his cell.

Some of the officers were punching the inmate, Tom Putzier, while others used a taser, pepper spray or a law enforcement tool called an OPN.

“Had I not known that they didn’t kill him, I would have thought that it was a possibility that they would have beat him to death,” said Janeanne Porter, Putzier’s mother.

The altercation sent Putzier and two deputies to the hospital. He said his eye required stitches. 

A probable cause statement suggested Putzier had been yelling for his medicine, and when deputies arrived in his cell to transport him to another pod, he “took a bladed fighting stance and began resisting against the sheriffs by punching and kicking the sheriffs.”

Putzier was accused of injuring two female deputies who were caught in the melee. The Denver district attorney initially charged him with four felony assault charges, but those were later dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to a misdemeanor “assault on a peace officer” charge.

“I was trying to keep from being hit,” said Putzier. “I was afraid they were going to kill me, honestly.”

Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor has already reviewed the case and passed it along to the next phase of investigation at the sheriff department, but no one would confirm when the investigation will be completed.

“This video is a great training video for what not to do in a jail,” said Mary Dodge, a criminology professor at the University of Colorado Denver, who reviewed the case on behalf of the FOX31 Problem Solvers. “It actually made me a little sick to my stomach when I watched it.”

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