$3.25 million settlement in Jamal Hunter suit latest blemish on Denver Sheriff's Department
Denver is trying to change the subject away from troubles at the city's sheriff's department. But doing so is costly.
Jamal Hunter in a photo shared in his lawsuit. More images plus videos and documents below.
A day after Sheriff Gary Wilson resigned (and news broke that interim chief Elias Diggins has a criminal record), City Attorney Scott Martinez announced a deal to pay $3.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed by inmate Jamal Hunter that resulted in revelations of porn, pot, drunkenness and brutality at Denver's jail.
Below, we've included a June 13 post about the Hunter suit, including original documents, videos and images that same readers may find disturbing. The complaint was filed in 2012 against the City and County of Denver and individual law enforcers, who former inmate Hunter accused of failing to properly protect him after he says inmates scalded his genitals with boiling water and two deputies attacked him.
The later assault was captured on surveillance video, from which the following image is culled:
The man on the right in this photo is Deputy Thomas Ford. He's not mentioned by name in Hunter's lawsuit, but he subsequently became the center of attention after a video surfaced showing him punching out a non-violent inmate. Here's that clip.
The video's seventeen seconds appear to have inspired Denver mayor Michael Hancock to finally make changes at the department, accepting Wilson's resignation as sheriff (he's still a division chief) and appointing Diggins to fill in until a permanent hire can be made. But the Hunter matter continued to cast a shadow. Hence the decision to pony up $3.25 million to make it go away.
The payout, announced at a press conference yesterday featuring Martinez and Hunter attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai, still must be approved by the Denver City Council. If it is, as expected, it'll likely be the largest settlement of its type in Denver history.
The previous high-water mark appears to have been set in 2008, when the city paid $3 million following the death of Emily Rae Rice, whose sad end was detailed in a 2006 Westword feature article, "Rae of Sunshine." Here's how Adam Cayton-Holland, the article's author, summarized the piece at the time of the settlement:
Emily went out for some smokes while intoxicated early on the morning of February 19 of . She subsequently got into a car accident and was taken to Denver Health, where doctors cleared her to be booked into jail on suspicion of drunken driving. While behind bars, Emily cried out in pain and even fainted, but was ultimately ignored by nurses and guards, who told her to stop being dramatic. Other inmates pleaded for assistance for Emily, but none was ever given, and after spending a night in agony, she died. An autopsy revealed that Rice had a seven-inch cut to her liver, a lacerated spleen and three broken ribs.As Cayton-Holland noted, attorneys for Rice's family felt that the money offered by the city was secondary to changes in protocol at Denver Health and the jail intended to "ensure that nothing like this ever happens in the City of Denver again."
Hunter's story was different from Rice's, but it demonstrates that plenty of problems remain at Denver jail. Here's a 7News report about the latest developments, followed by our previous coverage of the Hunter lawsuit.
Continue for previous coverage of the Jamal Hunter lawsuit, including videos, documents and images that some readers may find disturbing.