Fam­ily asks DA to re­open in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Home­less preacher died while be­ing re­strained in jail

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Noelle Phillips

The fam­ily of Marvin Booker, a home­less street preacher who died while be­ing re­strained in a Den­ver jail, is ask­ing Dis­trict At­tor­ney Beth McCann to re­open a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his death.

On Mon­day, mem­bers of Booker’s fam­ily will meet with McCann to dis­cuss the case and will hold a rally at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the Down­town De­ten­tion Cen­ter, where Booker died July 9, 2010.

In a June let­ter to McCann, the fam­ily wrote that a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be re­opened based on ev­i­dence that a Taser submitted by deputies for anal­y­sis was not the same stun gun used to shock Booker while he was re­strained. The let­ter as­serts that Sgt. Car­rie Ro­driguez in­ten­tion­ally switched Tasers be­cause she had shocked Booker longer than the amount of time recommended by the man­u­fac­turer.

“It’s im­per­a­tive to fig­ure out how, when and by whom the Tasers were switched and how the box of Tasers in Sgt. Ro­driguez’s of­fice may have fac­tored in,” said the let­ter, which was signed by the Rev. Spencer Booker on be­half of the fam­ily. “No mat­ter how many years af­ter Marvin’s death and no mat­ter how much city of­fi­cials may wish we’d stop ask­ing, these are not ques­tions that can rightly go unan­swered.”

Five deputies re­strained Booker in the book­ing area of the Down­town De­ten­tion Cen­ter af­ter he ig­nored a deputy’s or­ders be­cause he wanted to get his shoes. They placed him face down on the floor and used hand­cuffs, nunchuks and a carotid neck hold to re­strain him. The Taser was used while Booker was hand­cuffed and deputies were hold­ing him down. The en­tire in­ci­dent was recorded by jail se­cu­rity cam­eras.

No deputy was charged crim­i­nally in Booker’s death. In 2014, a jury in a fed­eral civil rights trial found the city and the deputies li­able in the death, and the city ul­ti­mately agreed to pay the fam­ily a $6 mil­lion set­tle­ment.

Dur­ing the civil trial, the Taser was a point of dis­pute.

Ro­driguez tes­ti­fied that she mis­tak­enly gave the wrong Taser to po­lice for anal­y­sis and left doubt about whether the Taser used to sub­due Booker ever was found. Lawyers for the Booker fam­ily and the city of­fered con­flict­ing ev­i­dence re­gard­ing how long a Taser was de­ployed against Booker, sug­gest­ing it could have been 8 sec­onds or as long as 27 sec­onds.

The Booker fam­ily has sup­port from mul­ti­ple so­cial jus­tice

groups in Den­ver, in­clud­ing the Greater Metro Den­ver Min­is­te­rial Al­liance, the Den­ver Jus­tice Pro­ject and Progress Now Colorado.

In a news re­lease, the Den­ver Jus­tice Pro­ject said the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice is the most in­flu­en­tial player in the city’s crim­i­nal jus- tice sys­tem, and “has the abil­ity to stop crim­i­nal be­hav­ior within the sys­tem by pros­e­cut­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers who break the law.”

The Booker case was in­ves­ti­gated by McCann’s pre­de­ces­sor, Mitch Mor­ris­sey.

Ken Lane, a spokesman for McCann, said she has not de­cided whether to re­open the case. She will lis­ten to the Booker fam­ily’s con­cerns and will take into con­sid­er­a­tion the in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide, he said.

Rel­e­vant statutes of lim­i­ta­tion vary with sep­a­rate charges that could be pur­sued. Lane said he would not com­ment on how state lim­i­ta­tion laws would ap­ply in this case.

Un­der Colorado law, there is no lim­i­ta­tion in charg­ing some­one with mur­der. Most felonies have a three-year limit, while there is an 18-month limit on pros­e­cut­ing mis­de­meanors. In the let­ter, the Booker fam­ily said ques­tions about the miss­ing Taser must be an­swered so trust can be re­stored in the city’s law en­force­ment.

“Jus­tice can­not be served in this case un­til ques­tions about such key ev­i­dence are ac­knowl­edged, in­ves­ti­gated, and an­swered,” the let­ter said. “It is a mat­ter of good faith and cred­i­bil­ity, not just in Marvin’s case, but in any case.”

AAron On­tiveroz, Den­ver Post file

Sup­port­ers rally in 2014 for Marvin Booker, who died at the Down­town De­ten­tion Cen­ter in Den­ver in July 2010. Booker’s fam­ily wants the case re­opened.

Den­ver Post file

The Rev. Spencer Booker talks about his brother Marvin in 2014.

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