Five Denver sheriff’s deputies are on trial for the murder of a homeless street preacher who died during an altercation with the officers in 2010.
The trial comes amid calls for a federal investigation of the department over other high-profile abuse cases.
Sheriff Gary Wilson resigned in July as the city agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle another federal jail-abuse lawsuit by a former inmate over a jail beating.
Inmates told investigators the struggle began when Booker was ordered to sit down in the jail’s booking area but instead moved to collect his shoes, which he had taken off for comfort.
Booker, 56, who was arrested on an outstanding warrant for drug possession, was cursing and refusing to follow orders, authorities have said. He was restrained by deputies who got on top of him, placed him in a sleeper hold, handcuffed him and shocked him with a stun gun.
Attorney Mari Newman, who is representing the family of Booker, countered in court that the force was a malicious overreaction to the inmate. She said deputies stunned him for too long and should have backed down when Booker said he was struggling to breathe.
“The fact that he was frail makes it all the more outrageous,” she said.
A medical examiner said Booker, who was 135 lbs, died of cardiorespiratory arrest during restraint. His death was ruled a homicide.
An attorney representing the officers blamed Booker for his own death, saying that Booker “made the decision to fight the officers, who never lost their temper and never lost control of their actions.”
Rice also claimed that an inmate in better health would have survived the ordeal.
Black lives matter.
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