Special to the Denver Weekly News
By Roger K. Clendening
DENVER (Feb.24, 2011) – The family of the late Rev. Marvin Booker Thursday sued the City and County of Denver, and the five deputies involved in his killing at Denver’s new jail on July 9, 2010, seeking justice, monetary damages and other relief, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Denver Weekly News.
The complaint alleges that Denver and the deputies violated Marvin Booker’s Constitutionally-protected 14th Amendment rights to life by depriving him of it without due process and then engaged in a conspiracy and cover up that continues to this day.
Rev. B.R. Booker Sr. and Roxey A. Walton, Marvin Booker’s parents, filed the lawsuit on behalf of their dead son’s estate, with their complaint also naming as defendants Denver Sheriff’s deputies Faun Gomez, James Grimes, Kyle Sharp, Kenneth Robinette, and Sergeant Carrie Rodriguez.
They are represented by the Denver civil rights law firm of Killmer, Lane & Newman.
The family, and their attorneys held a news conference today at 11 a.m. in front of the Lindsey-Flanigan Denver District Courthouse, 520 West Colfax Avenue, to discuss the lawsuit and what the family hopes to accomplish by filing it.
Marvin Booker was arrested and booked into Denver’s new Van Cise-Simonet Detention Facility at 8:18 p.m. on July 8, 2010, apparently on a warrant for failing to appear on a Feb. 22, 2010 possession of “drug paraphernalia” charge, according to jail records.
“In one of the many instances of law enforcement misconduct sanctioned by Denver, the individual defendants, through the use of excessive force,” caused Booker’s death in the jail, says the complaint.
“Denver,” the complaint asserts, “then engaged in an extensive cover-up of the events of July 9, 2010, as is the custom, practice, and policy after instances involving the use of excessive force” by Denver Department of Safety law enforcement officers.
The Denver Medical Examiner concluded that Marvin Booker’s “manner of death” was homicide, which means “the killing of a human being by another or other human beings,” according to the complaint.
Then, on September 28, 2010, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced that he would not be filing charges against the five deputies implicated because Marvin L. Booker’s “homicide” in jail was his own fault, and his killing by other human beings was determined to be legally “justified.”
Morrissey’s “decision statement” concluded that Mr. Booker brought on his own “homicide” by resisting the deputies trying to handcuff him and place him in a holding cell at the jail after he merely tried to retrieve his shoes and one deputy forcibly attempted to prevent him from getting them.
“Since Mr. Booker’s death, Denver has engaged in an extensive and relentless cover-up of the facts and circumstances surrounding his death,” says the complaint, noting, for example, that within two days of learning of his death, family members began requesting access to information, documents and a video of the events surrounding his death in jail.
The family has been trying for over seven months to obtain the video footage of Mr. Booker’s death, as well as documents, reports and other evidence, and all of their requests have been “ignored or denied,” the complaint alleges.
The legal remedies available to the family are monetary damages against the City and County of Denver, and also against the individuals involved in Mr. Booker’s killing, Darold W. Kilmer, one of the lawyers representing the family, explained in an interview with DWN.
Moreover, he said, the family is also “extremely” interested in achieving policy reforms in the City so that this will not happen to anyone else in the future. It would also be very important to the family to see individuals held accountable by the City, so disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, is definitely called for, Kilmer added.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “the law is fairly restrictive on what we can achieve through the courts, but there is more flexibility if the City ever indicated a sincere wish to talk settlement.
“We will fight until justice is achieved in this matter. Marvin did not deserve to be killed. People should not die when they go to jail in Denver, Colorado,” said the civil rights attorney.
And all he wanted to do was retrieve his shoes.