2 Cops Finally Fired Over Michael DeHerrera’s Unprovoked Denver Police Bashing

Like the dumbass Miami cops who went after a gay tourist while he was on the phone with 911 (which was recording the whole thing), two Denver cops have been fired, finally, after their videotaped beating of a gay man. With Cpl. Randy Murr next to him, Officer Devin Sparks was recorded throwing Michael DeHerrera, then 23, to the ground while DeHerrera was on his cell phone with his father, a sheriff’s deputy. Sparks then proceeded to beat DeHerrera with his police-issued baton, knocking DeHerrera unconscious, the Denver DA decided not to file criminal charges against the officers, and an independent reviewer of the case recommended firing both men — for filing false reports, not for excessive force. That’s because Sparks claimed in his report DeHerrera tried to hit him, and he responded in self-defense. DeHerrera denied the claim, and the videotape proves him right.

So what the hell happened that cops would even go after this man? Fox/KDVR explains:

On April 4, 2009, DeHerrera was talking on his cell phone as his friend was being arrested near the corner of 15th and Lawrence. Officer Sparks approach DeHerrera and quickly, seemingly without provocation, Sparks began throwing punches and threw DeHerrera to the ground. The incident was caught on video by a police surveillance camera. DeHerrera later claimed police brutality and Denver’ independent police monitor agreed. Richard Rosenthal issued a report saying the beating was unjustified and alleged that Sparks and Corporal Randy Murr lied to cover up the assault. “What we said and what people saw in the video is now what will be. It’s not going to be a question anymore,” DeHerrera said. “What happened happened, and we told the story that we did cause it was the truth.”

“We cannot and do not tolerate dishonesty in any safety agency which is why it holds the most severe penalty in the discipline matrix,” said Garcia. “Honesty, integrity and accountability are core values of the Denver Police Department. We are entrusted with the public’s confidence and that requires incorruptible character, fair treatment of all people and truthfulness in all of our officers.”

And why was DeHerrera’s companion, Shawn Johnson, arrested? Because he used a women’s room at a nightclub. Ahem.

The pair, who saw charges against them dropped after the videotape was released, settled a civil rights lawsuit with the city for a paltry $17,500.

As you can see plainly in the video, DeHerrera was not attempting to interfere with the arrest, nor did he appear to be provoking the officers in any way (though we can’t hear what he might have been saying). The assault already claimed the job of Denver Manager of Safety Ron Perea, who resigned/was pushed out after a year’s worth of furor over the police beating.

From a August 2010 Good Morning America report, where his mother explains the horrific way her son looked in the hospital.

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  • John k.

    The cops should be in fucking jail! How do they get away with this shit?!

  • scott ny'er

    @John k.: the cops should also be beaten up to within their life. eye for an eye. And then they need to repay the city for all the legal representation, etc. that was lost by defending their asses.

  • rhen

    i agree totaly, why should they get off without any criminal charges? It’s called assault no matter who the perpetrator is and with the video evidence should be enough to warrant criminal charges. If they exist to serve and protect, and they abuse their authority in such a way, I feel the charges should be increased tenfold for the betrayal of the trust society affords them to operate as an organization on behalf of public safety.
    If this is how they handle bad cops i say fuck the police.

  • JJ

    Criminals in uniform. They got off without criminal charges because…? How the hell are those cops going to undo this crap? If they can’t fix it, why don’t others harass them for no reason like they like to dish it out?

  • The sane Francis

    Cops get away with it because they are cops. It’s that simple, and it’s sad. Cops have power, the know it, and they abuse it. Most cops are Republican “macho” types. Translation: Most cops fit the profile of a homophobe. And nothing would have happened to these cops if there wasn’t any video.

    We the people, us regular citizens, have to make it known the bullshit these cops are doing, because if you let them get away with it, they will continue doing the same shit again and again. Especially if you are a minority citizen.

  • Hank Hill

    This is why I don’t donate to policeman’s widows…

  • sidewalk

    Randomly clicking on this site, this is the first I’ve heard of this story.

    Why did it not receive the same level of attention that Rodney King did?

  • MattGMD

    In these cases of excessivey violent cops on video, the typical response from the police defenders is that “the video does not show the whole story.” In this case specifically, the “whole story” in re: deHerrera being violent with cops first should be available for viewing since it was continuous filming, not randomly filmed by a bystander. Since the Denver PD has not made public any video that supports the cops’ version (at least to my knowledge and I’ve followed this case from the beginning). Presumably the video accurately shows an episode of excessive and wholly unwarranted police force violence. Since cops don’t like complaints or being questioned, then most likely the cops heard deHerrera telling his father that they (the cops) were “beating up” his friend, which in their narrow minds earned deHerrera his beatdown. Indeed, the cops should have terminated as soon as the video was viewed by city officials for both excessive force and falsifying their police reports. The DA should have filed charges for the physical assaut. Unfortunately for all victims of unwarranted police violence, criminal charges for cop violence while “on the job” are far too rare.

    Glad these young men were finally exonerated of any wrongdoing and at least these two cops are no longer roaming the streets of Denver “protecting and serving.”

  • just sayin

    So they were fired, big deal. Their next career step will be chief of police and local hero in some po-dunk Idaho town.

  • McMike

    It’s a real shame there are many in the police force who have no clue on how to be men unless they have their badge and are able to do whatever they f*cking want to. There are plenty of good cops out there but you can tell there’s a good amount that only became cops because they were the social rejects in highschool. The ONLY reason why they didn’t get away with it is because of this video. I’ve been on the receiving end of a cop breaking the law to arrest me and while I was in jail there were plenty of others who were there too simply because the police broke the law in order to make an arrest.

  • whatever

    there’s often a thin line between a cop and a thug. some common guttersnipe can take the six-week training, have a badge slapped on him, be given a gun, and act with total impunity. scary.

  • Geoff B

    If the Denver DA didn’t want to press charges, couldn’t the feds intervene like they did in the Rodney King case?

  • ShiaPetLaBoof

    Scum cops. Denver has a history of this. Hope the 1983 action costs the City a couple mil.

  • Mike

    He needed a better lawyer. $17.5k is nothing for what they did to him.

  • justiceontherocks

    @Mike: No permanent injuries – sovereign immunity – no finding of on the scene unlawful activity by the cops – the settlement is a little light but not that much.

  • JM

    Why does the camera zoom out to focus on traffic for a few moments, just seconds after DeHerrera is thrown to the ground? Who was controlling the camera, and why did they decide that the guy getting his ass handed to him (unlawfully!) was less interesting than the street? I suspect law enforcement was trying to “look away” for a second or two, so the cops had a chance to beat the guy even more.

    Thoroughly unprovoked assault – no surprise, coming from police thugs. I call for criminal charges, not just being “let go”.

Comments are closed.