Video: See Thomas Ford, suspended deputy, knock out non-violent inmate
Amid numerous recent claims of inappropriate actions by Colorado law enforcers, several of which were brought to the public's attention via lawsuit, the Denver Manager of Safety's Office issued an unusual announcement: Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson had asked the Denver District Attorney's Office to launch a criminal investigation into the conduct of a deputy under his command, Thomas Ford.
A screen capture of Deputy Thomas Ford seconds before laying out an inmate; he's seen at the upper right. The video and more below.
The release didn't say precisely what Ford was accused of having done. But a video originally shared by the Colorado Independent and on view below shows Ford brutally punching out an apparently non-violent inmate. And Ford was reportedly involved in another high-profile case of alleged inmate abuse.
The seventeen-second video obtained by the Independent was captured at the Denver jail on Sunday. In it, Ford can be seen at a copy machine as an inmate sits against a wall opposite him. Then, the inmate apparently says something that the deputy doesn't like; there's no audio, so we don't know exactly what. However, Ford's reaction is clear. He marches toward the inmate, who stands but doesn't raise his hands, and lays him out with a single punch. The inmate falls to the ground, apparently unconscious.
Here's the clip.
This isn't Ford's first trip into the spotlight for questionable on-duty actions, although we didn't realize it at the time.
In September 2012, as we've reported, we told you about a lawsuit filed by Jamal Hunter against the City and County of Denver and individual law enforcers for failing to properly protect him before and after he says inmates scalded his genitals with boiling water and two deputies attacked him.
Cut to last month, when a judge unsealed documents that offered new and shocking info about the case, including references to porn, pot, on-duty drunkenness and brutality.
Those reports, on view below along with the entirety of our June 13 update about the Hunter case, focus on another deputy, Gayle Rumer -- and the original Hunter lawsuit refers to defendant deputies generically as John Doe one through four. However, 7News is reporting that Ford was one of two deputies caught on video circa 2011 aggressively detaining an apparently peaceful Hunter.
Ford can be seen in the following screen capture. He's on the right.
Along with Ford, who's worked for the sheriff's office for six years, Officer William Lewis, a twelve-year veteran, is also in the investigatory cross-hairs. He's suspected of having reported the incident inaccurately.
The Manager of Safety's Office release suggests that Denver officials understand how difficult Ford's actions would be to defend, particularly in light of other recent episodes. So, too, do passages like this one:
Sheriff Gary Wilson as seen in an interview with 7News.
Sheriff Wilson shares the community's concerns as it relates to deputy misconduct and in March he created four Taskforces to conduct a top to bottom review of the Denver Sheriff Department. In addition to the Independent Monitor and his staff, members of the ACLU, Colorado Progressive Coalition, Ministerial Alliance, Citizen Oversight Board, Colorado Latino Forum, Mental Health Center of Denver, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Office on Aging, Americans with Disabilities Act and the GLBT Community Center of Colorado are participating in the Taskforce reviews. A public report regarding the recommendations of each Taskforce will be released at the end of this summer.In the meantime, Ford is on leave -- with pay.
Continue for our June 13 coverage of the Jamal Hunter case, including photos and videos. Warning: A number of images may disturb some readers.