On Aug. 17, we published a post about a Denver inmate who died shortly after being brought into the correctional facility. The victim was homeless and had been arrested on drug charges. According to reports of the incident, the inmate was resisting officer orders during booking and, therefore, he needed to be restrained.
It reportedly took about five officers to restrain the inmate and get him into a separate area away from booking. To restrain him, officers put him in a chokehold, and the coroner also notes that officers had put their full weight on the man’s chest and stomach. The inmate was also Tasered during the restraint attempt.
He died following the incident, and since his death, his family and those concerned with human rights and prisoner safety have been pressing for a thorough investigation into the officers’ actions. In a pivotal turn in this case, Denver’s District Attorney has recently announced that the officers will not be charged with the victim’s homicide.
According to the DA, the Denver officers did not use excessive force in the incident; they were acting according to standard safety procedures. The inmate was reportedly acting violently toward the officers and using profanities, and the DA, therefore, has concluded that the inmate’s actions were what led to his death.
But his defiance was not the only risk factor that pushed this incident to the fatal level. The coroner discovered that the victim, who died of a heart attack, had an enlarged heart and emphysema. On top of those life-threatening conditions, the inmate had cocaine in his system at the time of the incident.
Following the fatal case, Denver officials are still interested in investigating correctional facility procedure despite the DA’s decision. The officers responsible for restraining the victim are not allowed to return to work until the investigation is complete.
KDVR Denver: No criminal charges in Denver jail inmate’s death (9/28/2010)