Feds Consider Probe Of Denver Police, Sheriff

Justice Department Asked To Intervene After High-Profile Police Beatings

The U.S. Department of Justice is weighing whether to investigate Denver's police and sheriff departments for possible civil-rights violations.

The Denver Post reported Friday that the agency is at the "threshold stage" of deciding. The assistant attorney general for the civil-rights division, Thomas Perez, told the newspaper that it was reviewing information to see if an investigation is warranted.

Family and supporters of a homeless preacher who died after being restrained by deputies in jail has asked for a federal investigation. That confrontation was captured by surveillance video. This week another video emerged of a deputy holding another inmate in a chokehold.

In the last decade, Denver has paid out more than $6 million in settlements over allegations of alleged police brutality and misconduct.

The Justice Department has come close to examining Denver law enforcement for civil-rights violations in the past but an investigation has never materialized, partly because the city responded to complaints before a federal probe was launched, the newspaper said.

If it was to open an investigation, the Justice Department could launch a criminal investigation of a specific officer or incident for civil-rights violations, or it could also launch a review of a law enforcement agency's "patterns and practices" to determine whether legal intervention is needed to reform training and use-of-force policies.

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