DENVER — The family of Michael Marshall is responding to a new report from Denver's police watchdog that raises further questions about his death in the city's jail, and the ability for the sheriff's department to investigate itself.
"Very alarming. Very disturbing. Very frustrating," his niece, Natalia Marshall, said. "To get the full details behind the scenes is a devastating smack in the face. It is very hurtful, and it is very scary. You're supposed to trust the system."
Nick Mitchell, Denver's independent monitor, put out the 73-page report which slams the department for what he describes as a mishandled, incomplete internal affairs investigation that was plagued with flawed discipline decisions failing to hold anyone accountable in Marshall's death.
"To say I'm angry is an understatement," Natalia said.
She said the most hurtful, and unnerving finding the report centers around an award a deputy involved in Marshall's deputy was nominated for by a superior.
The report found a sergeant tried to nominate the deputy for the life-saving award for performing CPR on Marshall, even though he later died. Writing in the nomination, "Ultimately responsible for prolonging the life of Michael Marshall which allowed for those valuable moments that the Marshall family ultimately had with Michael and will be forever grateful to him."
"We should be forever grateful for you fracturing and putting a spit mask over my uncle as he vomited," Natalia said. "How can you award someone who killed someone? He murdered him."
"We would not have nominated this deputy, but the fact is that deputy was nominated by a fellow deputy or co-worker … but ultimately the deputy did not get the award," Denver's deputy director of safety, Jess Vigil, said.
"It's just unbelievable. That's the kind of place you're dealing with," CU Denver criminology professor, Mary Dodge, said.
The Marshall family also raised concerns about another deputy involved in his death. The family said, at the time, the department claimed the deputy wasn't being investigated or facing any potential consequences because he no longer worked for the sheriff's department.
However, Mitchell's report found around the same time as Marshall's death the deputy was hired as a Denver Police officer.
"Another deputy was promoted. He is a police officer. He is on the street carrying a gun after he murdered someone who had a mental illness," Natalia said.