Denver police sergeant arrested Thursday allegedly broke man's nose, leg bones with metal baton

DENVER – The Denver police officer arrested Thursday for investigation by prosecutors on an alleged use-of-force violation broke a young man’s nose and both bones in the man's lower-right leg when he beat the man with a metal police baton, according to an affidavit for his arrest.

DPD Sgt. Joseph Rodarte, 50, who has been with the department for 28 years, according to police records, was arrested for investigation on a felony second-degree assault with a deadly weapon charge but had not been formally charged by the Denver District Attorney’s Office as of Friday morning.

According to the affidavit for his arrest, the incident in questioned happened Aug. 22 near Ruby Hill Park and the Overland Golf Course.

Rodarte and three other officers were called out to the area on a report that a man was yelling obscenities.

The officers eventually learned that the man was “apparently experiencing a manic episode,” according to the affidavit. The man ran through several streets in the area as officers chased him, the affidavit says.

At one point, the man fled into an auto repair business. But as officers continued to chase him on foot, he ran back out of the shop. One of the officers tripped the man to keep him from continuing running, the affidavit says.

At that point, Rodarte hit the man six times with his metal police baton, the affidavit says.

“Sergeant Rodarte struck [the victim] once in the upper face, once on the middle back, once on the upper right leg, once on the lower right leg, once on the lower left leg, and once on the upper left leg, for a total six strikes,” the affidavit says.

It goes on to say that the man “received Serious Bodily Injury” from the blows that included, but were not limited to, the broken nose, broken right tibia and fibula and a gash to his right eye that required stitches.

His DPD Internal Affairs record shows Rodarte was hired in April 1990. Since then, according to the records, he has received five oral reprimands, six written reprimands and has been suspended or fined multiple times for various violations.

Most recently, according to the records, he was suspended for 10 days in November 2017. That came after he was suspended for three days in September 2017, and after he was suspended for three days in Jun 2017 and fined 16 hours’ pay, according to the internal affairs records.

State court records also show that Rodarte was acquitted of another second-degree assault charge in 1997 stemming from a June 1996 incident that also shows up in the internal affairs report, though no disciplinary action was taken against him.

Rodarte had already bonded out as of Friday morning, jail records showed. He is scheduled for an advisement hearing on Oct. 29.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock sent a statement about the officer's arrest on Friday afternoon:

"I was briefed yesterday about this incident and the District Attorney’s decision to file charges against one of our officers, and I am deeply concerned. I am reaching out to the teen’s family to offer them our full support as this process takes its course.  Our city takes all incidents of alleged police misconduct very seriously. I, along with the Department of Safety and the Denver Police Department, are committed to cooperating fully with the District Attorney’s Office in its investigation. This is a matter of significant public concern and I am monitoring all developments closely."

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