Police brutality: Witness upset Denver Diner cops to be back on street

denver diner police brutality cropped.jpg
Big photos below.
New update below: Denver's Civil Service Commission has determined that officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, fired over an alleged brutality incident at the Denver Diner in 2009, can return to the street while the city appeals their reinstatement. This decision aggravates Colorado Progressive Coalition's Miriam Pena, who was present at the restaurant that evening and is good friends with one of the women suing the officers over their treatment.

The Commission didn't rule on the facts of the Denver Diner case. Rather, members had been asked to consider a request on the part of the city to stay the reinstatement of Nixon and Devine during the appeals process. But because the city was four days late in submitting the proper paperwork, the officials declined to do so.

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Courtesy of Joe Boven
Miriam Pena.
To Pena, the use of this technicality makes the outcome "a lot more frustrating. From what we've gathered, there is precedent for the decision-makers to look at a case even if the appeals had been filed late. At least that's what we've heard from folks at the city attorney's office. But they chose not to."

In her view, the tardy filing provided the CSC with "a convenient excuse. We haven't seen much come out of the Civil Service Commission that gives me any hope that they would have ruled otherwise. If it wasn't this late thing, I still don't think they'd have made the right decision."

The alleged prevalence of police brutality in Denver is "very close to my heart," Pena says, "not only because I witnessed it in person, but also because I've been listening to some of the stories that our members have shared. People will call our hot line about incidents that happened four years ago, because these are traumatic events that don't go away easily. Denise DeHerrera, Michael DeHerrera's mother, still wakes up with nightmares. So when I see decisions like this one, I become so disillusioned with the system and wonder how I can continue to inspire and encourage our members to stay involved when it doesn't seem like change is on our side."

How does she fight this feeling? By reminding herself that "change happens very slowly," she notes. "So we have to celebrate the small victories along the way, and feel pride that we're putting a spotlight on these kinds of injustices. I think it's fair to say the general public really didn't have an idea who the Civil Service Commission was before we started putting on public pressure. It's just a matter of redirecting people's energies to create positive change."

Update, 10:50 a.m. March 20: The CPC is responding to the Nixon-Devine non-ruling by launching a nationwide petition calling for a federal investigation of excessive force complaints against Denver law enforcers. Accompanying the petition is a video featuring Pena, CPC Racial Justice director Mu Son Chi, police-beating victim Alex Landau and the parents of Michael DeHerrera, also battered in an excessive force incident.

Here's the link to the "Bring Justice to Denver" petition, followed by the just-released video and our earlier coverage.

Original post 10:02 a.m. March 19: Today, Denver's Civil Service Commission is expected to issue a decision related to police officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, who were fired for their actions in an alleged brutality incident at the Denver Diner in 2009 only to subsequently be reinstated. The question: Should they remain off the streets while the City of Denver appeals the reinstatement decision? The Colorado Progressive Coalition's Miriam Pena says "yes," for very personal reasons. After all, she was at the restaurant that fateful night.

Nixon was at the center of a high-profile alleged excessive force case prior to the one that took place at the Denver Diner -- the 2009 beating of Alex Landau. He was also involved in the 2006 shooting death of a suspect.

As for the Diner incident, it's the subject of a still-pending lawsuit jointly filed by four women, Kelly Boren, Sharelle Thomas, Ana Ortega and Kristal Carrillo. But Pena was present at the restaurant, too, in the company of Ortega and Carrillo.

"It was a summer night in July -- a girls' night out kind of thing," Pena recalls. "Ana, who's one of my best friends, was with Kristal, her partner at the time. Kristal presents herself in a more masculine-looking way, and as she was coming out of the bathroom, she was kind of harassed by other girls waiting in the line. It was something to the extent of, 'Why are you coming out of the girls' restroom?'"

Pena was also waiting in the line, and she tried to break up the fight -- "but my attempts failed, and the next thing I knew, a police officer was there and I got pushed into a column in the waiting area of the restaurant."

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Kelly Boren.
What happened next is something of a blur for Pena. "I kind of blacked out when my head hit the column," she notes. "But before that happened, I remember thinking, for a split second, 'I'm glad to see cops here. They're here to help us.' I can't believe I ever thought that...."

Why? Because, Pena says she watched as Carrillo was tackled by officers, after which Ortega got roughed up simply for trying to defend her partner. "She wasn't doing anything wrong," Pena emphasizes.

Neither was Pena, but she was dragged into the drama, too. "I was trying to talk to an officer, saying, 'Let me explain. This is a misunderstanding.' But I didn't get listened to. I got handcuffed and threatened and taken to the wall. The officer told me to sit down, and I didn't want to sit down, because I was wearing a dress. And meanwhile, all these things unfolded in front of me. I saw one of the officers grab this girl by the neck and push her, even though she didn't do anything wrong. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

A video of the incident taken from outside the restaurant showed additional actions, such such as the use of mace -- events that left Pena even more astonished about abusive behavior toward the public. So did the stories she heard from others at the Diner after she was released from custody. "One of the girls who'd been maced, and who was totally innocent, was saying, 'I'm going to call a lawyer.'" Meanwhile, Ortega was transported from the scene in a patrol car, "and when they let her make her first phone call, she called me, and said it sounded like she was going to have to stay in jail over the weekend. And I thought, 'Oh my God. I can't believe this happened."

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Sharrelle Thomas.
She's equally aghast that Nixon and Devine got their jobs back after being fired. "I understand the complexities of the issues around the way investigations are done, and of collecting witness testimony and that kind of thing," she says. "But no matter how you look at any of those videos -- no matter what angle or perspective -- you can't deny the truth. The camera isn't going to lie, and the way those officers acted was way out of line. And that's an understatement."

In Pena's opinion, and that of the Colorado Progressive Coalition as a whole, making sure Nixon and Devine are sidelined while the city appeals their reinstatement "is extremely important. This has been one of the demands we've been making as an organization over and over. And if that sort of request had been honored when the Alex Landau case happened, who knows what would have happened in the future? There have to be consequences to actions like this in any field, but especially if you're a public servant. And if we're to restore any kind of public trust in the police department, it's important they don't end up on the streets again, period, but at the very least through the investigation."

Page down to see a CBS4 report featuring excerpts from the HALO video, a frame-by-frame breakdown featuring text from one of the suits, and the lawsuit by plaintiff Kelly Boren.


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19 comments
acsmith1972
acsmith1972

It seems like Denver is just one of those racist messed up cities that supports police brutality. That should be a sign for anyone who has ever had interactions or ever seen a cop in public to move from the city.

NoToTyranny
NoToTyranny

I'm so impressed by how these large burly men in those black costumes can manhandle women.

Ho Chi Mane
Ho Chi Mane

So how many people does a cop need to beat to be subject to discipline? With all the people who've been reinstated with pay, I'm getting the distinct impression each officer's entitled to some freebies.

Bob Smith
Bob Smith

I think Denver should get rid of Ricky Nixon for giving Denver cops a bad image. I mean, smoking a cigar! In uniform! Right by the bar entrance!

Think of all those harmed by his second-hand smoke!

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

I can just picture it.It's 2:10a.m. and 10,000 overserved ventured out of Denver's rooftop Bars.There's thousands of drunks standing in the street pounding on the windows of taxis, STOP!A ped-a-cab solicits chicks. They get in. The stud ped-a-cab driver rocks the rickshaw left and right down the 16th St mall, left right, left right rocking the rickshaw on one right tire and one left tire at a time.The chicks are screaming! ooooooooooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyggggooooooooooooddddddddddddwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegggggggggggggggggggoooooooooooooooooooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt00000000000000000000000000000DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The stud rickshaw driver gets them to THE DENVER DINER. The chicks have to puke but there's chicks in line that don't care because they have pee. A fight breaks out. Enter off-duty police. But I got to pee! But I got to puke! But I got to pee! I got to pee real bad! I'm gonna puke! Hand Cuff time.

Patriot_70
Patriot_70

And what is so amazing is that people see them beat people down, and they stand around and do nothing but watch.

Patriot_70
Patriot_70

The police have truly become our Masters.  They do as they please, violate the law at every turn, ignore people's rights, mace us, attack us, rape us, beat us down, break our ribs, break our arms, and kill us.  And what do they get?

A few days off with pay, then returned to duty with a nice little award for brutality in the line of duty.

TRAV556
TRAV556

What brutality? The were not doing what the police told them to do and continued to approach them time after time. The Police would have been justified to shoot them. What would have happened if a pedestrian grabbed one of the officers guns?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Violent Scumbag Cops deserve to be sent to PRISON ... for TWICE the time that an ordinary citizen would receive for the same offence!

Make it so !!

officer killsalot
officer killsalot

I don't care if we fill the jails arrest anyone anyone you can

we will make them see their injustice and it will hurt as all fighting hurts

but we cannot lose we cannot they may torture my body break my bones and

even kill me and they will have my dead body not my obedience

I don't care if we fill the jails fill the jails ever take a solid oath

that congress makes we will not submit to this law we we we will not submit

FUCK YOU

So you wanna be a cop?

so you wanna be on the top

arrestin and shootin' all the kids on the block

incarcerate the youth of the next generation

and you get the high fives at the police station

so you wanna wear blue

and prey on the people

go above the constitution where all men are equal

beat down the poor and the working class core

your a class trading motherfuckin' rich mans whore

'cuz it's a thin blue line between the love and the hate

if you so choose to cross it you're a nazi for the state

your injustice will crush us, the precious the few

so you wanna be a killer for the red white and blue

you're a bitch to the crown

keep your own people down

you've got nothing to protect

but you're keeping the sect

for your own damn brothers you got no respect

and the killing won't stop when you become a cop

the worlds getting madder and it ain't gonna stop

it's an uphill battle all the way until we reach the top

you got an answer in your holster

and no question to kill

you got a vision for society

and it's your will

even the summer sun can't make this situation light

you've got the upper hand in a war

when you take away our arms and our means to fight

so you wanna be a cop?

you never stop with your wicked guns going pop

after 41 shots your grinning in the donut shop

your sickening behavior regulates this society

and musters all the sickness and hatred inside of me

so you wanna wear blue?

well you're just the type

got an chip on your shoulder and an itch for a gripe

standing on a raft in an ocean of blood

but you're doing the killing and you're causing the flood

how can we tolerate this mad abuse of power?

you think a cop is never psycho till he stabs you in the shower

Choking V

Morning G

L.O.C.

we never stop

and your death'll be sweet if ya wanna be a cop

they say the sea is green and the sky is blue

and that's about right because we're below you

you cop an extra attitude when you come down my block

so you wanna be a cop?

the worlds getting madder and it ain't gonna stop

it's an uphill battle all the way until we reach the top

you got an answer in your holster

and no question to kill

you got a vision for society

and it's your willhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Sharpshooter
Sharpshooter

Here's what's gonna happen: nothing. The cops will keep their jobs, and be even MORE empowered to abuse their authoriTAY because they got away with it multiple times before. One of 'em will kill a kid or an unarmed person, and then we'll see them removed from their position. For about three months!  Meanwhile, they'll continue to draw a paycheck and laugh at the stupid ass civilians they beat and shoot. Bow to your overlords. worms! They get up early to beat the crowds!! 

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

I wouldn't have made such a kind comment if I had known he beat up Alex Landau.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Passionate post, Sharpshooter -- one we're going to make a Comment of the Day. Congrats.

Brian
Brian

ROberts, you truly seem to lack any ability for an educated desertion of thought. Spending any time reading your feed back is time wasted. Please find your calling elsewhere .Brian

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

By the way, TRAV, we're going to include your take in a Comment of the Day post, too. Appreciate you weighing in.

News Wire
News Wire

More like Idiocy of the Day.

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