Crime | Denver

Denver Police Officers Fired After Beating Of Gay Man

Two Denver police officers were fired from their jobs yesterday, two years after an incident that led to the arrest of a gay man who had used the women's room at a local club. Police used excessive force to arrest the man's partner, Michael DeHerrera, who, at the time, was simply placing a cell phone call to his father. The two officers were found to have lied about the incident after surveillance video surfaced soon afterward that showed a different version of events than they had filed in their police reports.

In announcing the firings, Denver's Manager of Safety Charles Garcia said the actions of officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr, did "immeasurable harm" to the 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," Garcia said. Garcia is the civilian authority who oversees Denver's police and fire departments and sheriff's office.

Sparks was fired for "inappropriate use of force" and lying in his police report. Murr was fired for falsifying his report on the altercation. The flap stemmed from an April 2009 incident when Michael DeHerrera and his partner, Shawn Johnson, were detained by police after Johnson was ejected from a bar in lower downtown Denver.

Murr and Sparks said in their police reports that the men were belligerent, and force was required to subdue them. But a city surveillance camera showed DeHerrera talking on a cell phone when Sparks suddenly hurled him to the ground and pummeled the prone man with a sap, a metal rod wrapped in leather.

There has been speculation that the two men were targeted by the officers because they are gay.

Watch a news report of the incident, including the street surveillance video in which the claims of the officers are completely debunked, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. Good.

    Although two years seems like a long time for an investigation.

    Posted by: Sgt.Sausagepants | Mar 26, 2011 10:22:42 AM

  2. So if I physically assault someone and thereafter lie about it, I go to jail for at least 2 counts and very likely lose my job. Why aren't these officers going to jail?

    Posted by: Klaus | Mar 26, 2011 10:43:27 AM

  3. Is there a mistake in this clip? Part of it confuses me. The man in the suit at 2:27, is introduced as the "new manager of safety", and he says he thinks the cops did not use excessive force, but the label underneath him says "Anthony DeHerrera, victim's father". Huh?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Mar 26, 2011 10:55:31 AM

  4. Too bad there isn't enough evidence to prosecute the officers conduct as a hate crime. At the very least the officer who took down the bystander on the phone should be liable to a charge of assault.

    These are police officers! How can the force expect the community to respect them if they are not treated like criminals when they behave like they are?

    Posted by: Tone | Mar 26, 2011 11:13:50 AM

  5. These police officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr should be in jail. Their behavior was disgraceful and despicable.

    Posted by: brian | Mar 26, 2011 11:21:36 AM

  6. Thank God they have a tape. I don't like saying this but I believe the majority of Police are criminals with a badge. In the past 2 weeks we called our local Police 3 times to report Harassment. They all know we are a Gay Couple. One Patrolman told us that it was foolish for us to report Harassment because it would only escalate it. When we told him that we witnessed a neighbor hiding next to a tree at twilight with what appeared to be a camera video taping our home from the property line, he responded to get a camera and video him back. Another Patrolman told us that we could eliminate the harassment by giving up our rights to our access road we share. In other words, he implicated and knows the parties involved and has chosen to give a wink and a nod.

    Again, thank God these Men survived to tell their story.

    Posted by: Jerry | Mar 26, 2011 11:42:14 AM

  7. "criminals with a badge"

    Damn right.

    Posted by: jersey | Mar 26, 2011 12:02:55 PM

  8. Criminals get jailed. Bad cops get fired.

    They'll be hired as mercenaries by Fascism, Inc. (what is Blackwater calling itself these days?) by the time their taxes are due.

    Posted by: Bryan | Mar 26, 2011 12:19:51 PM

  9. This would never have happened in NY or LA. The firing of the cops, I mean, not their criminal actions. In NY or LA, they would have got promotions and medals for their criminal actions.

    Posted by: ohplease | Mar 26, 2011 12:41:12 PM

  10. Both cops should be in prison. That much is obvious. The gay men should sue the cops in court, and financially bankrupt them. Especially since one of the gay men has nerve damage in his face, and will likely need extensive medical treatment. The cops cannot be allowed to get away with this.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Mar 26, 2011 1:11:46 PM

  11. Of course these guys should be in jail, but they're cops. Ridiculous and sad, but that about sums it up.

    And not ALL cops are thugs or criminals with badges, but a lot are. A lot of cops are former criminals, a lot of cops are former jocks, the police force in general is mostly white, male and Republican, very testosterone driven, and usually sexist/homophobic. I'm pleased that there has been at least some recognition of what these two men did was wrong and that they have been punished accordingly.

    Posted by: Francis | Mar 26, 2011 2:44:40 PM

  12. They should be in jail. I can't help but wonder if this is the first time they've lied on reports.

    While I'm not a big lawsuit guy, I hope they get a good attorney and sue those cops AND the Safety Manager and teach them a lesson. Simply being fired is not justice.

    Posted by: Secret Identity | Mar 26, 2011 3:14:13 PM

  13. At 11:42 AM I posted on this thread. At 1:15 PM a Policeman shows up at our door. He was investigating a theft of a Wildlife Camera from a neighbor's property. We have a Wildlife camera at our front porch. It is a Poor Mans Security system. It is motion activated.It works ok but it is all we can afford now. The Policeman took down the serial number etc. We believe the whole this is a false police report and a ruse. We want the Police to investigate that the neighbor actually own a camera. Our neighbors prowl our property and one is stalking us . We have a receipt from Amazon for the purchase. This is the neighbor who we discovered is trying to steal land from us. We believe he is looking for wiggle room for negotiations. This is the 4 th time in 20 days the Police have been to our home. They are having a real problem processing that we are taking a stand.

    Posted by: Jerry | Mar 26, 2011 4:43:14 PM

  14. 2 quotes:

    The law is an a**
    --Charles Dickens

    In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.
    --Lenny Bruce

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 26, 2011 5:04:14 PM

  15. As a teenager, I woke up on evening in a hospital. Didn't know my name, what year it was, the city I was in, etc, I had classic amnesia. ID was found in my wallet, and eventually one of my brothers showed up to take me home. Once home, my memory came back, except for everything that happened that day. That memory has never come back. I've spoken to various people who say I was talking to them at such and such a time on the phone, and one guy friend told me we were supposed to hook up [literally, for sex]. I had condoms in my pocket, so probably accurate.

    I looked like I was beaten up, not that I had an accident. I've been in several accidents, including car, motorcycle, and bike, this wasn't caused by an accident. The next day I found my bike behind my apartment building. It was OK, but unlocked. A neighbor told me she saw 2 police officers place it there. I contacted the hospital, and they told me police dropped me off. They didn't leave any info. I contacted police, no report was filed. Everybody told me I looked like I was beaten, probably with something like a cloth covered club [i.e. a sap]. The emergency room nurse who first saw and treated me said the same thing.

    I'm 100% sure of one thing; I wasn't anywhere or doing anything where I would have gotten into a fight or gotten jumped. My personal conclusion is cops, for whatever reason, beat me up. I'm totally convinced of this. I told this story to a retired cop, and he agreed, and showed me the ways cops can assault people, what instruments they use, how to knock someone out [concussion] which usually results in perm. short term memory loss.

    Maybe they stopped me for something, searched me, found something on me signifying I'm gay [I had several things, including a note, a card from a clinic well known for being geared towards gays, etc] and decided to beat the snot out of me. It wouldn't surprise me.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 26, 2011 5:37:27 PM

  16. police lying? who'd of thunk'd?

    Posted by: kueerduck | Mar 26, 2011 8:11:17 PM

  17. I hope these two guys sue these cops and/or the city of Denver. Totally disgusting behavior.

    Posted by: anthony | Mar 27, 2011 1:02:32 AM

  18. Hey, in Seattle, officers can shoot & kill a random person who's just walking down a sidewalk, and then be found not guilty by the review board.

    Posted by: Liam | Mar 27, 2011 1:52:25 AM

  19. Racism and homophobia run deep in the force. The homophobia is an important wall in their hypermasculine culture where hypermasculine men crave the hypermasculine aspects of one another, and seek a society of men.

    Who among us would be surprised in five years if these cops were gay themselves?

    Posted by: Rob | Mar 27, 2011 5:08:58 AM

  20. @ Jerry, file a affidavit of fact, state what is happing, get it notarized and file it of record at your county clerks office, it will be of record for all time.
    You can file as many as you wish. All so file a affidavite of use and possission about your property. Remember once filed it can not be removed.

    I hope this helps you.

    Posted by: Austin | Mar 27, 2011 10:44:56 PM

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