DENVER — Mayor John Hickenlooper is asking the FBI to investigate a case that has divided a top law enforcement official and an independent watchdog over whether Denver officers caught on video aggressively subduing a man should be fired.
An independent office that monitors Denver police released a report Monday saying two officers seen on video arresting two men outside a downtown nightclub last year should have been fired for trying to cover up allegations of excessive force. Independent monitor Richard Rosenthal -- the former Portland Police auditor -- said he believes the police video of the April 2009 incident clearly shows one officer doctored his account to keep the second officer from getting in trouble.
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Denver Manager of Safety Ron Perea said while inflammatory, the video, released to the media by the Police Department, doesn't tell the whole story. He said he stands behind his decision on disciplining the officers.
Hickenlooper told Denver's KUSA-TV that Perea and Rosenthal both did their jobs, but added that when viewed in isolation, the video "does not reflect well on the officers involved."
One of the men arrested, Michael DeHerrera, 24, said in a lawsuit against officers and the Police Department that he was slammed to the ground and repeatedly beaten after screaming for help as his companion was forced to the ground by police.
Charges including assault and resisting arrest were dropped against DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson, 25. The city settled with DeHerrera for $17,500 and Johnson for $15,500.
In his report, Perea said witnesses told police DeHerrera and Johnson were intoxicated. The officer who forced DeHerrea to the ground could have easily believed DeHerrera was going to take a swing at him, Perea said.
The inconsistencies in the officers' reports were misperceptions, not willful deception, according to Perea's report.
However, Rosenthal said he views the inconsistencies as "intentional falsehoods" made to prevent the officer from facing allegations of excessive force. The officers should have been fired for serious breaches of policy and ethics, he said.