Madrid: Denver officers learn it pays to lie — persistently for years

Police misconduct continues to be an expensive liability in Denver’s city budget. The painful deficit is felt in the wallets of residents and our collective psyche.

This past decade, the city of Denver has paid out millions in police-involved settlements. Denver police officers are historically bailed out when they violate policies.

And now Denver taxpayers will foot the bill again. This time it will be thousands of dollars in back pay for a case that has lingered for more than ten years.

In 2009, officer Devin Sparks and Cpl. Randy Murr responded to a call at a nightclub. Michael DeHerrera and his friend Shawn Johnson had no idea the serious repercussions using the women’s bathroom at a crowded club would bring them.

During Johnson’s arrest DeHerrera called his father, a Pueblo county’s sheriff deputy, for advice. While Michael DeHerrera was on the phone, Officer Sparks yanked him by the neck and slammed his body to the ground.

His face broke the fall, chipping pieces of his teeth against the street.

Officer Sparks and Murr lied in the reports to higher-ups. They said DeHerrera had attempted to swing at them. A video of the incident, caught by high activity location cameras, proved otherwise. The false-reporting led to their initial firing.

They were fired for lying and not for the physical force they used against DeHerrera.

This was back in 2011. Since then, the firing decision was appealed by the officers’ lawyer on a technicality. And earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected hearing the case to put an end to the decade long court battle. This means the appeals court ruling stays in favor of the two police officers.