Denver Diner case's $360K settlement exposes culture of police brutality, attorney says

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Big photos, videos below.
Last night, the Denver City Council approved a $360,000 settlement over a 2009 incident at the Denver Diner, during which four women were billy-clubbed and maced by Officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, both of whom are still members of the department. Attorney Siddhartha Rathod, who has represented the victims throughout the case, doesn't trumpet this payment as a victory. Rather, he uses it as an opportunity to decry police brutality in the city and wonders whether anything will be done to end it once and for all.

According to Rathod, corresponding by e-mail, "The Denver Diner case has exposed Denver's culture of police brutality and willingness to cover it up."

As we've reported (see our previous coverage below), Kelly Boren, Sharelle Thomas, Ana Ortega and Kristal Carrillo were at the restaurant in 2009 when they say Denver police officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine menaced them with nightsticks, pulled or shoved a number of them to the ground and sprayed them with mace despite no compelling evidence of actual wrongdoing. This contention is illustrated later in this post by a video and a series of photos showing Nixon and Devine in action.

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Some of the images from a video of the 2009 incident at the Denver Diner.
Devine and Nixon were fired in 2011 for their actions at the Diner, only to be reinstated and given permission to hit the streets again by the Denver Civil Service Commission.

The victims' lawsuit had been wending its way through the system for several years when, in February, a judge ruled that the City of Denver could be put on trial for police brutality. This prospect significantly enhanced the odds of a settlement, which came down last night. Both Ortega and Boren will reportedly receive just over $44,000, with approximately $43,000 going to Carrillo, $34,000 to Thomas and $193,000 for legal fees.

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Siddhartha Rathod.
When quizzed about the agreement, Rathod focuses not on the cash, but on the continued employment of Nixon and Devine. "Denver has repeatedly demonstrated that it cannot get rid of officers who are determined to be 'bullies and liars,'" he notes.

This last phrase is in single quotes for a reason: It's shared in a document submitted to the Civil Service Commission by the Denver City Attorney's Office, which argued against the officers' reinstatement. We've included the filing below, but here's a biting excerpt, featuring a section highlighted by Rathod:

Of paramount concern to the Respondent is the risk to public safety that these officers pose if they are returned to duty. The safety of Denver's citizens rests squarely in the hands of Denver's police officers. Every officer in the Denver Police Department has been entrusted with the tremendous power and authority to make arrests and to physical or even deadly force to enforce the law and protect citizens from those who would do them harm. The responsibility that comes with wearing a police uniform and carrying a badge and gun cannot be underestimated, nor should it be taken lightly. Public safety is intrinsically tied to honest and responsible law enforcement. The video of this incident alone shows that Petitioners are bullies and liars who will not hesitate to punch a restrained female in the face (a violation affirmed by the Hearing Officer Panel); shove innocent female bystanders to the ground; indiscriminately push through a group of bystanders with a baton, mouth too occupied with a large cigar to give verbal orders; directly apply pepper spray to the face of a restrained female; pepper spray a group of retreating bystanders, unjustifiably place an injured and innocent bystander under arrest, and forcibly shove handcuffed females to the ground, yet report only a fraction of those actions. To force the City to put a badge and gun back in those officers' hands before this appeal process is complete would significantly compromise public safety and undermine the public's faith in the Denver Police Department and its many excellent police officers.
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Alex Landau after the police beating for which he received a $795,000 settlement.
As you'll recall, Officer Nixon was also involved in the bloody beating of college student Alex Landau, which resulted in a $795,000 settlement to which Rathod alludes.

"Between the Alexander Landau and the Denver Diner incidents, the City and County of Denver has paid nearly $1.2 million to settle acts of brutality committed by Denver Police Officer Ricky Nixon," he points out. "Yet both Officer Nixon and Officer Devine remain on the force."

"The Denver Diner case has exposed Denver's culture of police brutality and willingness to cover it up," he adds. "Hopefully as the cost of keeping bad officers on the force rises, Denver will begin to take steps to fix its problems rather than continuing to throw money at a problem and keeping business as usual."

Here's the aforementioned City of Denver document, followed by our previous coverage.

Denver Diner Case Exhibit 7

Continue to see our previous coverage of the Denver Diner case, including photos, a video and original documents.


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41 comments
Christina Briggs Noland
Christina Briggs Noland

This is a rhetorical question right?? Cause I seriously laughed when I read it. And it's not just Denver; Being a CO lifer, and having lived all over this state, I can say with certainty that 99% of COs law enforcement is completely corrupt. And I'm willing to bet that the corruption and brutality is a nationwide issue. And none of it will ever be resolved until we all get past this notion that "They put their lives on the line for us, they should be exempt." It's bull. These are the people we should be holding to even higher standards than the law. It's ridiculous! But then again, what isn't ridiculous about this country anymore?!?

hbogey31
hbogey31

I couldn't find any recent statistics but from reports I found from past years this was interesting

According to the FBI website, there were about 13,000 murder victims in 2009.There are about 250,000,000 people in the US. Assuming there was one murderer per victim, the murder rate of all Americans is 0.0052 percent.

Now compare that to police.  That comes out to be about 330 misconduct-fatalities. There are about 415,000 officers nationally. That’s almost a 0.08% murder rate compared with 0.0052 of the general population (including police officers). That would indicate police are 16 times more likely to murder.

Or, of you add the police killings (330 people) to the 13,000 murders, police account for 2.4 percent of the murders, whereas they account only for 0.2 percent of the population

J.T. Sexton
J.T. Sexton

The problem just isn't police brutality. The problem is the justice system as a whole. From the low level judges and city attorneys all the way up to the governors office. Their lack of accountability and prosecution of the criminal acts by these officers is disgusting. Not only should they never work as police officers again but they need to be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent. Some advice to anyone harassed, beaten and bullied by the police and the justice system is fight back. Flood the courts with lawsuits for every unjust thing they do. A federal 1983 form is your best friend and they will start to get the message if everyone starts fighting back instead of taking the first bullshit deal offered to them. Take your case to trial, never wave your preliminary hearing no matter what your lawyer tells you and crumple this broken system. If only a third of people in the system took their cases to trial, the system will be overloaded and fail. Make them do their jobs and hold them accountable for their unethical and malicious practices.

Ian StClair
Ian StClair

Only if those responsible are the ones paying.

Bengy Martinez
Bengy Martinez

^ Getting harassed by metro area PD's is as easy as Black or Brown skin. Crazy thing is, many times you don't even have to do anything against the law. I like the attached camera idea. That would put a huge dent on corrupt police activity.

Kris Stark
Kris Stark

Damn, what do I have to do to get beaten by a cop? Some people have all the luck!!! lol

Stephanie Sarad
Stephanie Sarad

denver city council coughed up the money. Does anyone know what that means? -we paid for it with our tax dollars. Denver police are out of control!

Daniel J. King IV
Daniel J. King IV

What about all the BULLSHIT Denver P.D.'s DONE to me - some of it documented in Denver Westword [i.e. Case GS-492135] ???

David Spohn
David Spohn

Nope! But the pigs should pay for it themselves vs the tax payers!

Jason Thomas
Jason Thomas

Haha, where's the city get $360k? They get it from taxpayers. We just paid the $360k settlement. It's not as if the members of the council tap their own personal bank accounts to pony up.

John David Garcia
John David Garcia

Sue the police union, then that will take money from all of them. Then they can check themselves or fellow officers that have to pay for others indiscretions.

Anthony Huh
Anthony Huh

Police brutality should be treated the same as rape, treason, and murder.. How are they any different? They were sworn to protect the people, a responsibility. This is a major crime and should be treated as such.. You don't give murderers and rapists a slap on the hand and then give them a job afterwards.. wtf is going on?

Nate Mender
Nate Mender

This is disgusting! How do they still have their jobs? Not only should they be fired, but the y should be charged with assault. Watch the video.

Derek Howard
Derek Howard

But they're cunts and cowards, if its 1v1, they take out their gun, if its more than one of them vs you, they'll just gang up and beat the day lights out of you because they know they'll get away with it. Still, I never had the desire to carry mace, pepper spray, or a beat stick or anything until I saw this disgusting shit..

LindaLee Law
LindaLee Law

This will not stop until the offending cops are taken off the force and never allowed to work in any type of occupation of this nature. I was both accosted and threatened on 2 different occasions and the cops did nothing but schmooze me and take a report. When I was unmercifully sexually harassed by 20 illegal Mexicans on Federal and 19th the cops did nothing until young girls were bothered. While there are good police officers , these give the force a bad name. Sadly, the over attitude that I pick up from cops that have to deal with women's complaints, you know the minors ones such as rape and assault, they take their GD time. I am of the opinion as a "liberated ' women, the deeper attitude is one of " you wanted to be equal you got it, fend for yourself". This is distressing. I am the daughter of an NYPD CAPTAIN and i am sure he is rolling over in his grave.

Jeremy Arecco
Jeremy Arecco

bukkshit every cop is corrupt and bad news specially in denver n colorado springs there losers n dont deserve a badge period end of disscusion and if ur mmj pacient thy treat u even worse there pieces of shit a blight to the hole world they need go prision n learn cops or gov sare not above the law

Wendy Dennie
Wendy Dennie

Best idea is to have them wear cameras at all times. No more "he said, she said" crap

Monte Aaron
Monte Aaron

Nothing will ever end police brutality in Denver

Justin Jones
Justin Jones

Obviously not since Nixon was involved in now over 1 million worth of law suits. What a joke. Did you know that a felon can become a police officer and many do?

Nicole Cormier O'Reilly
Nicole Cormier O'Reilly

Until they fire cops that do this, and make the entire force pay these settlements from their collective salaries, nothing will be learned.

Rick Benitez
Rick Benitez

if a police officer put his hands on me, he would of wished he would joined the Fire Dept.

John Paul Rojas
John Paul Rojas

Unlike the rest of the real world. Cops don't live with consequences for their actions. They are protected from prosecution for infractions civilians pay a heavy price. Police officers should be part of our community and not scene as people we can not trust or make us feel uncomfortable. Cops are like street thugs at times. We fear them because they carry guns and have the power to ruin your life. Does anyone have cop friends. Besides those that are family members, neighbors or high school associates. I don't. Why is that? They don't see civilians as people but as criminals until proven different in my opinion. It's a strange and uncomfortable feeling that comes when encountering a police officer. I'm glad that encounter is rare. When police officers are caught committing a crime, on video no less? They should be prosecuted and sentenced like any other US citizen and the city should stand behind its citizens. It's rare I see Denver police officers actually being safety officers. I really believe police officers should have training classes every month on public relations. It's shouldn't ever be us against them type of mentality.

Paul Malczewski
Paul Malczewski

Are you kidding? Hell no it wont matter. The cops didnt foot the Bill. The funds should come from there oporating costs. Then maybe they will hold each other accountable.

Mark Theguythatcouldfly
Mark Theguythatcouldfly

No. Police are bullies by nature. And especially not when those same officers are still employed by this city. SHAME. Other police officers should be demanding these two officers be fired. The whole bunch is spoiled if they don't.

Che Harness
Che Harness

Not unless the money was taken from all the cops in his division. Punish all for the actions of one. Maybe If they're were policing themselves more we might see brutality drop. Either that or it'll push them further into their pack mentality of lying to protect their fellow officers. Probably the latter.

Robert Barnhart
Robert Barnhart

No, officers need long prison sentences. Police brutality should carry a sentence of ten years.

Michelle Childers
Michelle Childers

No. Cause the cops in question were reinstated to the force. We all know that not all cops are bad, but these 2 guys were involved in several incidents where they used excessive force and the city got sued and had to pay. Any other job and they would have been out in their ass long ago

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Anthony D. Hoang Very interesting post, Anthony. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Eric Smiles In this case, the Denver City Council is making the payment -- and we know where the money came from. Thanks for the post, Eric.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Nate Mender The video's on the last page of the post and it speaks volumes. Thanks for the post, Nate.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Wendy Dennie Interesting post, Wendy. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Aaron Smith Hope you're wrong, Aaron -- but even the attorney in this case isn't all that optimistic. Thanks for posting.

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