Jail beating: City says its possible liability tops out at $100K in homeless victim case

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Original post, 10:05 a.m. July 25: Although a jury has awarded homeless Denver resident Robert Duran $40,000 for being beaten bloody by a guard at city jail, it's not clear to Duran's attorney, David Lane, that the city will pay the fine and attendant legal fees or leave that to the deputy who did the damage. Lane wants Duran to be paid, but he'd be fine taking a six-figure loss if Denver decides that, now and in the future, it won't indemnify civil-rights violators. Why? He thinks the prospect of law enforcers personally bearing costs might deter more brutality.

Here's how Lane details the incident, which took place in March 2009 and involved then-Deputy Stephen Koehler.

"I told the jury the only way this case could have possibly come to light is because videotapes exist of everything that happened in the jail," Lane says. "Normally, if it's the word of a homeless prisoner versus a deputy, the deputy wins that battle every single time. But the jury saw what happened.

Denver jail as it looked in 2009.
"There's no audio on the tapes, just video," Lane continues; he notes that four tapes shot from various angles were screened for the jury. "The first tape shows Duran leaving a cell to go get processed, and he gets into an elevator being operated by Deputy Koehler. It's March, and Duran realizes he's left his shirt in his cell. He claims he's asking Koehler if he can go back and get his shirt, but Koehler won't let him do it. And the next tape shows Koehler violently shoving Duran into the elevator.

"The deputy claimed that Duran was making aggressive hand gestures and demanding a sack lunch. But the video shows that Duran's hands were tucked under his arms in a shivering position the entire time."

After being shoved, Lane maintains, "Duran flew into the elevator and hit the back wall. At that point, Duran turned around and balled up his fists and started jumping up and down in the elevator, yelling at Koehler. But then Koehler points at Duran and says something, and Duran calms down while three other inmates get on the elevator."

David Lane.
As Lane explains, a cage door separated the inmates from Koehler. After it closed and the elevator started moving, Duran can be seen "pacing back and forth and running his mouth. Koehler said he threatened to kill him, but Duran said no, he was just cursing and protesting the fact that he'd been shoved for no good reason."

Shortly thereafter, the elevator arrived at the fourth floor of the jail. When its exterior doors opened, Lane says, "Koehler walks across the hall, gets some rubber gloves, puts them on and then comes walking very aggressively back to the cage. He slides open the cage door as Duran has his hands up, in surrender mode, and forcefully grabs him by the throat, pulls him out of the elevator by the throat and the scruff of the neck and rams his head into a door jamb.

"Duran goes down, and two deputies who don't know what's going on jump in to assist Koehler. Duran doesn't remember what happened next, but the video shows them dragging him into a vestibule area. There's blood everywhere -- all over Duran's face and his torso, since he's not wearing a shirt. He's handcuffed behind his back in the vestibule and is struggling to his feet when Koehler comes over. And Koehler's own words were, 'I stomped him in the face.'"

Continue for more about the Robert Duran verdict.

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Take ALL the $$ directly from the PERSONAL accounts of the Violent Criminal Pigs who perpetrated the assault.

RobertChase topcommenter

Denver needs to be compelled to stop subsidizing the crimes of its brutal police, and it needs to be sued for fostering the criminality within the DPD until the cost of its failure to remove commanders who engage in or condone crimes forces it to change.

James Gold
James Gold

A "prison" guard? The article says this happened in a jail. Semantics, I know. But I'm glad this dude won the case.


People DO realize David Lane isn't the SOLE civil rights attorney in the area ???

Over-rated, arrogant, PUTZ !!!

Get the man his $$$ !!! DO YOUR JOB DAVID LANE !!!

This IS the point of the article, right ? Lane's incompetence ???!!!....

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@James Gold ... Weakword isn't known for linguistic accuracy ... after all, Queen Patty allows her minions to get stoned at work.

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