Den­ver coun­cil ap­proves set­tle­ment for in­mate

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jon Murray

Den­ver has agreed to pay $65,000 to set­tle a law­suit filed by a for­mer jail in­mate who was punched by a deputy.

Video of the July 2014 in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Kyle Askin was leaked, set­ting off com­mu­nity out­rage over con­tin­u­ing use-of­force is­sues in the Den­ver De­ten­tion Cen­ter. Jail lead­ers fired Deputy Thomas Ford, but he was re­in­stated af­ter the Ca­reer Ser­vice Author­ity Board later over­turned the de­ci­sion. The city is still ap­peal­ing that change.

The Den­ver City Coun­cil ap­proved the set­tle­ment of Askin’s civil case 9-0 dur­ing its meet­ing Mon­day. Two mem­bers ab­stained be­cause they did not at­tend city at­tor­neys’ ear­lier closed-door brief­ing about the set­tle­ment.

Askin will re­ceive $36,908.80, and $28,091.20 will go to law firm Rathod Mo­hamedb­hai, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil’s agenda item.

The in­ci­dent — fu­eled by video ev­i­dence — be­came a tip­ping point in ef­forts to re­form the Den­ver Sher­iff De­part­ment. It showed that Askin, who had been mouthing off to deputies as he sat on a bench in the book­ing area, stood as Ford ap­proached. Ford swung his fist, strik­ing Askin in the head and knock­ing the in­mate to the floor.

At­tor­ney Qu­sair Mo­hamedb­hai cred­ited the size of the set­tle­ment, which is rel­a­tively small com­pared with re­cent ex­ces­sive-force pay­outs in­volv­ing the jail, to city at­tor­neys’ will­ing­ness to ne­go­ti­ate early in the case. It was filed in May.

“Mr. Askin ap­pre­ci­ates Den­ver’s re­solve to set­tle this mat­ter quickly,” he said Mon­day. “This case is one of many that shows an on­go­ing sys­temic prob­lem of ex­ces­sive force in the de­ten­tion cen­ter. Un­til Den­ver gets to the root prob­lem that is plagu­ing its jail, the tax­pay­ers of Den­ver can ex­pect more set­tle­ments in the fu­ture.”

The in­ci­dent helped set off a drive for re­form of the de­part­ment. That has in­cluded new lead­er­ship and a top-to-bot­tom re­view that led to changes such as the de­vel­op­ment of a new use-of-force pol­icy.

Askin’s law­suit high­lighted pre­vi­ously un­re­ported in­ci­dents of ex­ces­sive force in­volv­ing Ford. One 2010 in­ci­dent, also caught on video, in­volved the deputy strik­ing in­mate Shaun Pack, throw­ing him to the floor and drag­ging him into a cell af­ter Pack had com­plained about in­mates re­ceiv­ing peanut-but­ter-and-jelly sand­wiches on Christ­mas Day, ac­cord­ing to the Askin law­suit.

Ford wasn’t dis­ci­plined for that in­ci­dent.

Af­ter re­view­ing the 2014 episode in­volv­ing Askin, the ca­reer ser­vice board re­versed the fir­ing, find­ing the in­ci­dent mer­ited a 40-day un­paid sus­pen­sion in­stead. It or­dered the city to re­in­state Ford and pro­vide 18 months of back pay.

Den­ver pub­lic safety of­fi­cials filed a still-pend­ing ap­peal of that de­ci­sion in Den­ver Dis­trict Court.

“The De­part­ment of Safety main­tains the po­si­tion that Deputy Thomas Ford used in­ap­pro­pri­ate force dur­ing his in­ter­ac­tion with Mr. Askin and that his ter­mi­na­tion from the Den­ver Sher­iff De­part­ment was ap­pro­pri­ate based on the facts and ev­i­dence,” spokes­woman Dae­lene Mix wrote in an e-mail Mon­day. “Pend­ing the out­come of the court’s de­ci­sion, Deputy Ford re­mains in the em­ploy­ment of the Den­ver Sher­iff De­part­ment; how­ever, he is in an as­sign­ment that does not in­clude con­tact with in­mates.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.