No charges in in­mate’s death

The Denver DA says mu­tual com­bat or self-de­fense may have led to the re­sult.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - The Denver Post By Noelle Phillips

Charges will not be filed against a Denver jail in­mate who killed an­other in­mate dur­ing a Mon­day morn­ing fight at the Down­town De­ten­tion Cen­ter, and the in­mate was re­leased from jail Wed­nes­day af­ter post­ing bond on un­re­lated charges.

The fight be­tween Ri­cardo Lopez Vera, 19, and Wil­liam An­der­son, 42, ap­pears to have been mu­tual com­bat and pos­si­ble self-de­fense, said Ken Lane, a spokesman for the District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice. An­der­son died in the fight. Pros­e­cu­tors did not be­lieve they could prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that a crime had been com­mit­ted.

Lopez Vera was booked June 6 into the down­town jail on a fail­ure to ap­pear war­rant and was wanted as a fugi­tive in Adams and Arapha­hoe coun­ties and in Denver, ac­cord­ing to jail records. His pend­ing charges are mostly mis­de­meanors and traf­fic of­fenses, in­clud­ing ob­struc­tion of a po­lice of­fi­cer, driv­ing un­der re­straint and fail­ure to obey a traf­fic con­trol de­vice in Adams County and speed­ing in Ara­pa­hoe County.

Lopez Vera also had been flagged by U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment for an im­mi­gra­tion mat­ter, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff depart­ment’s web­site. But Lopez Vera was able to post thou­sands of dol­lars to make bond on the var­i­ous charges and was re­leased, said Si­mon Crit­tle, a sher­iff’s spokesman.

The sher­iff’s depart­ment no­ti­fied ICE of Lopez Vera’s pend­ing re­lease at 10:07 p.m. Tues­day, and Lopez Vera was re­leased at 10:39 a.m. Wed­nes­day, Crit­tle said.

The fight hap­pened at 7 a.m. Mon­day on the fifth floor of the jail, ac­cord­ing to a prob­a­ble cause state­ment. The cause and man­ner of death for An­der­son has not been de­ter­mined by the med­i­cal ex­am­iner.

An­der­son had been booked on July 1 on a fail­ure to ap­pear war­rant, ac­cord­ing to court records. He was con­victed in July 2016 on charges of third-de­gree as­sault and pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance. An ar­rest war­rant was is­sued in April for fail­ing to com­ply with the con­di­tions of his pro­ba­tion, court records show.

Few de­tails about what hap­pened dur­ing the fight have been re­leased.

“There is cur­rently an in­ter­nal re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent that oc­curred on July 10th at the Down­town De­ten­tion Cen­ter,” wrote Mary Du­lacki, the Depart­ment of Safety’s records co­or­di­na­tor, in re­sponse to The Denver Post’s re­quest for records. “Both the depart­ment and the pub­lic share an in­ter­est in a thor­ough and com­plete re­view and in

main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of that re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The death fol­lows warn­ings from the sher­iff’s deputies’ union and com­mu­nity ac­tivists that Denver’s two jails are un­safe be­cause of crowded con­di­tions and in­creas­ing vi­o­lence. In Fe­bru­ary, a vet­eran deputy de­scribed the down­town jail as “a dan­ger­ous pow­der keg that is ripe for an­other tragedy.”

On Tues­day, the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Denver Sher­iff Lodge #27 wrote on its Face­book page: “The FOP has been warn­ing the city for months in re­gards to se­ri­ous in­mate and staff safety is­sues that could re­sult in death or se­ri­ous in­jury. But as is al­ways the case in mat­ters in­volv­ing pub­lic safety and the city, the warn­ings of the em­ploy­ees have gone ig­nored. And now this!”

In 2016, the sher­iff’s depart­ment re­ported 513 in­mate-on-in­mate as­saults, six times the num­ber of as­saults re­ported four years ago, ac­cord­ing to a Denver Post re­port in April. As­saults on deputies also have been on the rise.

Sher­iff Pa­trick Fir­man said ear­lier this week that the jail was fully staffed and the fifth floor was not crowded when the fight hap­pened.

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