20 October 2008

Police Brutality Not Cheap

The City of Denver is poised to pay $885,000 to settle a police brutality claim involving an incident on April 18, 2008 when Juan "Willie" Vasquez was repeatedly stompped on while restained by Charles Porter, a Denver cop against whom Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey's office has brought felony first-degree assault charges to which Porter has pleaded not guilty. The cop is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

Family members in June said they had been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy because they had no health insurance to pay medical bills in excess of $100,000.

His guardian, Veronica Gonzales, said in an interview Thursday that Vasquez was recovering from his injuries and no longer required tubes to drain waste from his body.

"He's been doing really well," she said.

"The big question was whether he would be OK without those tubes in place. Those were removed a few months back."

The settlement goes before Denver's City Council today. New personnel policies adopted with mixed input from the Denver police officer's union should make it easier to fire cops like Porter.

Getting bad cops off the force before they commit this kinds of gross abuses, and punishing cops who stand by and fail to act to prevent these kinds of abuses, could save the City large sums of money each year, and these kinds of internal attitudes would also improve the credibility of the city with the public, and in particular, the part of the public likely to become the target of abusive police tactics. This in turn, would make it easier to solve serious crimes in many neighborhoods where crime is high.

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