10 June 2014

Denver Police And Sheriff Slammed For Witness Intimidation In Civil Rights Lawsuit

Federal Judge John Kane of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado slammed the City and County of Denver for having a pattern and practice of witness intimidation in a civil rights suit alleging that a 2011 jailhouse beating of an inmate in Denver's jails by other inmates was orchestrated by prison guard Gaynel Rumer, who was suspended for 40 days by the City but is now back on the job.

The judge also urged federal law enforcement officials to investigate official misconduct by Denver law enforcement officers in the case.  According to the Denver Post:
U.S. District Judge John Kane has asked federal authorities to investigate the "patterns and practices" of the Denver police and sheriff's offices and suggested they were intimidating a key witness.

In an emergency hearing, Kane ordered Denver police internal affairs detectives to stop an investigation against witness Amos Page, who is testifying in the case of a former jail inmate. . . .

Kane on Friday ordered Denver police to produce all documents in its investigation of Page, including recordings of interviews, e-mails, notes and correspondence by June 16.

"The Denver Police Department is immediately and permanently enjoined from any and all action, investigation, consultation or and kind of participation, including any action by its Internal Affairs Bureau, until judgment is entered in this case," Kane ordered. . . .

Kane also ordered that a transcript of Friday's hearing be provided to the U.S. Attorney's office for a possible criminal investigation. The judge added that if the case goes to trial, the jury will be instructed regarding the treatment of the witnesses, "including intimidation by agents of the defendant."

Kane ordered that all statements from Page recorded by the city and its law enforcement officers are stricken from the record of the federal case. The judge also canceled all scheduled depositions of other witnesses.

He gave Hunter the authority to depose the internal affairs officers at the expense of the city, including attorney's fees.

A motion by Hunter's attorney, Qusair Mohamedbhai, says Sgts. Brian Cotter and Brad Lenderink of Denver's internal affairs office went to the Crowley County Correctional Facility and interviewed Page, apparently to intimidate him from testifying in Hunter's civil suit.
It is exceedingly rare for a federal judge to call out and severely sanction city law enforcement officials for acting in a criminal way to prejudice a federal civil lawsuit.  This should be a wake up call for Mayor Hancock to take radical action to address corruption in the city's law enforcement agencies, something he has already shown that he is inclined to do.

But, it's is hard not to be skeptical that any real reform will arise from this incident when the city's officials were caught red handed in an illegal cover up of its own misconduct by the department that is supposed to be punishing bad cops, given the dismal record of efforts so far under multiple successive well meaning Mayoral administrations.

No comments: