Denver City Council approves $3.25M settlement

DENVER - The Denver City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a $3.25 million agreement to settle allegations of misconduct made by Jamal Hunter against all parties, including the City and County of Denver. 

On July 25, 2014, the U.S. District Court issued an Order approving the settlement agreement as a resolution of all pending issues in the litigation.

"The resolution of this case marks a new day for our community and for our sheriff’s department," Mayor Michael B. Hancock said.  "We are working hard to strengthen protocols and chart a new direction for the department that will restore the public’s trust."

The only council member to vote against the settlement was Jeannie Faatz.  She was concerned that the award amount was too large, considering the nature of Hunter's injuries.

Councilwoman Judy Montero was out of town when the vote was taken. Councilwoman Debbie Ortega abstained because her daughter works for the sheriff's office.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, in addition to the payment, the City and County of Denver agreed to:

  • Engage an independent, outside third-party to conduct a review of the Denver Sheriff Department that will consider:
  • The classification of inmates at Denver Detention Centers;
  • The screening and hiring process for DSD deputies;
  • Best practices related to the discipline of DSD deputies; and
  • Best practices related to the DSD Internal Affairs Bureau.

As a part of the agreement, the city has also hired the law firm of Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP as an outside independent firm to review best practices and litigation protocols of the City Attorney’s Office.  That review includes:

  • Protocols for handling and supplementing discovery in civil actions;
  • Protocols related to ongoing internal affairs investigations in the city; and
  • Best practices related to professional development in the City Attorney’s Office.

Hunter said he did not resist or attack the deputies. (See the video: http://ch7ne.ws/1mSzKQy)

The sheriff's office gave Deputy Gaynel Rumer a 40-day suspension for introducing and distributing pornography and marijuana in the jail pod, complicity in inmates "unlawfully" brewing homemade "hooch" in their cell and "use of inmates to implement informal physical discipline," according to a Denver Police Internal Affairs Bureau investigative report.

Revelations in the abuse case led directly to the resignation last week of Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson and an investigation by independent monitor Nick Mitchell revealing scores of inmate grievances that hadn't been properly investigated.

Denver safety director Stephanie O'Malley told 7NEWS that the department is grappling with more than 100 disciplinary cases.

Mayor Michael Hancock and O'Malley have vowed to overhaul the troubled department and restore public confidence in the institution.

This deal isn't just about money.

As part of the agreement, the city attorney's office will now face a review, amid allegations it encouraged officers to tamper with a witness in the case.

"The sheriff has stepped aside, your office now facing a review as well.  Are you in a capacity to lead the city attorney's office still?” asked 7NEWS Reporter Marc Stewart to city attorney Scott Martinez.

“Absolutely.  We have not just good attorneys, we have great attorneys.  For me this is a chance to look at the best procedures and best practices," said Martinez.

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