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2 Denver police officers suspended for excessive force in last year's George Floyd protests

Denver protests
Posted at 2:54 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 16:01:08-04

DENVER — Two Denver police officers accused of excessive force in last summer's downtown protests over the death of George Floyd have been suspended, according to documents released Tuesday.

The Denver Post first reported the suspensions of officers Derek Streeter and Diego Archuleta.

Streeter will be suspended 10 days, and Archuleta will be suspended six days. Both suspensions are without pay.

Each officer has 10 days to appeal their suspensions to the Civil Service Commission.

Disciplinary action reports gave an account of each incident involving the officers.

Body cam: 2 Denver police officers suspended for excessive force in last year's George Floyd protests

Streeter fired three pepperball rounds at a vehicle that was driving away from the protests on May 29, 2020, according to a departmental order of disciplinary action.

Streeter fired the pepperball rounds at the car after hearing a man yell obscenities out of the passenger window.

Streeter said he fired the pepperballs at the car because of "the amounts of missiles and objects we had been assaulted by through the course of the night," the disciplinary action letter said.

Streeter said he believed the man in the vehicle "was positioning himself to throw something at us or assault us as he passed, [because of] the fact I could not see both of his hands as he was hanging out of the vehicle."

The investigation acknowledged that Steeter and other officers had been hit by objects thrown during the protests, but it found Streeter's explanation "not plausible."

"The passenger was hanging out of the window while screaming obscenities at the officers, likely holding onto the moving car as it proceeded away from the officers," the disciplinary letter said. "The moving car was a significant distance away from the officers when Officer Streeter first attempted to fire pepperballs and the launcher malfunctioned ... The vehicle was even farther away at the time of the firing of the three rounds, which further reduces the likelihood of any potential threat being posed by the passenger."

Archuleta used pepper spray on a vehicle that was stuck in traffic during the protests, according to a departmental order of disciplinary action.

Archuleta said he asked the woman in the vehicle "to move along" and then heard her say "something about 'killing.'"

Still, he said, once he used the pepper spray on her windshield, "I realized that I made a mistake and walked away from the female and her car.

"I just don't want this to paint a picture of an officer that I shouldn't have been that day," Archuleta said, according to the disciplinary letter. "I'm better than that, and I just apologize."

The investigation found that Archuleta's actions were "substantially contrary to the Department value of Service and substantially interfered with the Department's professional image."

The suspensions handed down this week are the first ones for excessive force related to last summer's protests.

In December, the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor released a report that concluded the Denver Police Department was ill-equipped to handle the size and scope of the George Floyd demonstrations in the city this summer and failed to follow some of its own policies and other best practices surrounding the police response and recordkeeping requirements.

The report from the independent city office tasked with ensuring transparency and accountability from Denver’s two law enforcement agencies found shortcomings within the police department’s staffing of the demonstrations, use of force against protesters, body-worn camera usage, and planning and coordination with the outside agencies – particularly during the first five days of the protests when most of the action occurred.