Monitor: Officers' Story In Apparent Beating 'Pure Fiction'
Independent Monitor Says Video Reveals Officer Cover Up
Last Updated: 1011 days ago
Denver's Independent Monitor said Denver police officers tried to cover up what happened after they apparently beat up two men, a beating that was captured on police video."It was clear to me they were trying to cover up what actually happened and make it look better than it was," said Richard Rosenthal, the Independent Monitor who reviews police internal investigations.He recommended that the officers be fired, but Denver's Manager of Safety Ron Perea only disciplined the officers for filing an inaccurate police report."It's pure fiction. Did not happen," said Rosenthal about the officers' account in a written report.The police video shows Michael DeHerrera of Pueblo standing on the corner talking on the phone while police officers struggle to arrest his friend, who is on the ground.The tape then shows an officer grab DeHerrera and take him to the ground, but the video suddenly pans wide as officers subdue DeHerrera.After the camera pulls to a wide shot, you can see officers hitting DeHerrera, but it is impossible to tell if DeHerrera is struggling.The video zooms back in as police lead the bloodied suspects to a police car.The officers claimed DeHerrera had tried to hit one officer, but Rosenthal said the video refutes that claim."They suggest the suspect bladed his body and clenched his right fist. Well, what he did is he turned his body and lifted his cell phone," he said.In fact, he said the video proves the officers were lying point-by-point.Officers claimed DeHerrera was standing "one foot" away from the incident, interfered with the arrest and officers had to repeatedly tell him to get back and he refused. But Rosenthal said the video shows none of that is true.Rosenthal said the video also shows the officer inappropriately using a police club to repeatedly hit DeHerrera while he was down."There's really nothing in the video to suggest at any point in time that he was being actively aggressive," said Rosenthal.There are also questions of whether the operator of the police HALO camera (High Activity Location Observation) was attempting to cover up the incident since it panned away as the officers were subduing DeHerrera.Rosenthal said his investigation cleared the camera operator."The HALO operator was simply not watching, and the camera automatically went back to its original position. After 30 seconds, the operator noticed it was not longer on the incident and brought it back," said Rosenthal. "I did not believe there was any ill intent or malicious intent to try to hide the incident. It's just bad luck."However, Manager of Safety Ron Perea wrote in his report that the video alone is inflammatory, however when the entirety of the situation is known the officers should not be fired.When you look at it in its entirely, and see what occurred, I dont believe the officers acted excessively, Perea said.The city settled with DeHerrera for $17,500 and Johnson for $15,500, and photographs in the case show injuries to DeHerrera face. Charges against both men in the video were dropped.But the officers still have their jobs."The big problem in this case is the report, because it makes stuff up," said Rosenthal. "And that we can not allow police officers to do. And if the [Denver Police] Department is not going to hold that person accountable, I have to let the public know that."