Marvin Booker's family upset at delay in lawsuit against city, deputies they say caused his death
|Spencer Booker in 2011.|
They also point out that Booker suffered from several medical conditions, including congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His heart was twice the normal size and an autopsy showed he had cocaine in his system. Booker, the defendant's lawyers wrote, "possessed most, if not all, of the classic symptoms for somebody at risk of sudden cardiac death."
This past July, the defendants asked a federal court judge to dismiss the civil lawsuit altogether. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey had already decided not to press criminal charges, finding that Booker's actions "necessitated the use of force."
In December, U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson declined to do so. "If what they say is even remotely true and your officers did to this man what they claim they did," he asked the city's lawyers in court, "then how is it even conceivable that a reasonable officer wouldn't understand that that was unconstitutional and wrong?"
But the city and the other defendants are appealing Jackson's ruling -- and, Booker's family says, delaying justice. Though the trial scheduled to start today will now be postponed, or canceled if the defendants win their appeal, Spencer Booker and his wife Gail decided to travel to Denver this week anyway. They spent Monday marching in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, which began in City Park at the foot of the King statue. Wearing a long black overcoat to protect against the morning chill, Spencer Booker said his brother Marvin was a King scholar who memorized the civil rights leader's speeches and even recited one when the King memorial was erected in the park in 2002.
"The officers (involved in Booker's death) have declared that they have 'qualified immunity,'" Booker told a group of assembled journalists. "'Qualified immunity' means to me that if my brother had a gun and tried to shoot at them, they could take his life. If my brother had a bat and was trying to beat them, perhaps they would have had 'qualified immunity.'... But my brother only went to get his shoes."
Booker said the family wants the deputies to answer for what happened. "For me, justice would be for them to face the citizens of Colorado," he said, "and let them decide whether or not they were justified in what they did to my brother by murdering him."
The case is now in the hands of the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Continue to read the lawsuit and the defendants' motion to dismiss it.