Michael DeHerrera beating: Cop Devin Sparks fired (again), Randy Murr reinstated (again)
Afterward, Sparks insisted that he'd gone after DeHerrera in response to aggressive movement and resistance on the latter's part -- actions not on view in the video. Likewise, Murr told investigators that he'd seen DeHerrera try to hit Sparks, contradicting the visual evidence.
In the end, the commission's majority determined that Sparks had used excessive force and then lied about his actions. Here's an excerpt:
Michael DeHerrera during an appearance on Good Morning America.
The Panel finds that DeHerrera, though most likely intoxicated and aggravated at seeing his friend being arrested, was not engaged in active aggression to avoid arrest, but was engaged in defensive resistance to the arrest. DeHerrera did not comply with police directives and continued to talk on his cell phone and moved his hands in an animated fashion. The Panel finds that the City's expert witness was more credible in describing the use of force as not objectively reasonable as seen in the HALO video. There were other less aggressive means available to arrest DeHerrera which Sparks did not employ. The series of false statements at clear odds with the HALO video and the other evidence of record are misleading. Given the extent of the differences and the lack of any reasonable explanation for the differences, the Panel concludes that Sparks made the false statements knowing that they were false to try to avoid being disciplined for inappropriate use of force.In contrast, the commission found that Murr's statements mostly matched those of witnesses, with the exception of his claim that DeHerrera had tried to sock Sparks -- and he retracted the assertion upon seeing the video, blaming his previous statement on "an improper misperception of the events."
In the end, the panel found that Sparks used inappropriate force against DeHerrera, declaring that "the appropriate discipline for this violation is thirty (30) days suspension without pay." But the members also feel Sparks committed a "deceptive act...by willfully, intentionally, and knowingly departing from the truth verbally, making false reports and intentionally omitting information in conjunction with his reports and interviews with regard to his use of force while arresting Michael DeHerrera."
One more thing: "The Panel also finds that the appropriate discipline for this violation is dismissal."
And Murr? The panel determined that Murr did not commit a deceptive act, "and his dismissal from the Classified Service for that violation is reversed. Corporal Murr shall be reinstated to his position with all back pay, seniority and other benefits due from the date of termination."
That could be a huge chunk of change -- but Murr isn't in the clear quite yet. While the U.S. Justice Department has decided not to smack him and others involved in the Alex Landau case with federal civil-rights violations, the city's own investigations into the matter -- which resulted in a $795,000 settlement with Landau -- is still pending.
On top of that, the city is planning to appeal the decision to once again reinstate Murr. Here's a just-released statement from Denver City Attorney Doug Friednash:
While the City Attorney's Office is pleased that the hearing officer panel upheld the dismissal of Officer Devin Sparks for commission of a deceptive act and his lengthy suspension for unnecessary force, we are profoundly disappointed with the panel's decision to reverse the dismissal of Corporal Randy Murr. The evidence provided at the hearing regarding Corporal Murr's deceptive statements and reports was compelling. In fact, the panel found that Corporal Murr falsely reported seeing Michael DeHerrera take a swing at Officer Sparks, yet reinstated him to the police department. An appeal of that aspect of the decision will be filed.
Continue to see a video of the attack on DeHerrera and the Civil Service Commission's report.