A new independent report reveals that the Denver Sheriff’s Department repeatedly ignored dozens of serious complaints by inmates against deputies — including numerous allegations of choking, racial epithets, and sexual harassment. The report, produced by the Denver Office Of The Independent Monitor concludes that the Denver Sheriff’s Department violated both internal policy “and national standards on law enforcement accountability.”
Over the course of three and a half years (January 2011 to June 2013) inmates filed 5,979 complaints, of which 54 were determined to involve serious misconduct. Of these complaints only three — just 6 percent of the most serious complaints — were investigated by the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau. (Six other allegations were investigated after the inmates filed separate complaints through different channels.)
The Independent Monitor report was prompted by a former inmate, Jamal Hunter, who alleges deputies refused to protect him from a group of other inmates who “assaulted him and burned his genitals with scalding water.” After Hunter complained about a lack of medical attention to Deputy Edward Keller, Hunter alleges that Keller attacked him, “choking, punching and body slamming me without cause.” He was also tasered twice. When Hunter then filed a grievance about the incident, it was ignored. Now Hunter has filed a federal lawsuit against members of the Sheriff’s department.
Members of the Denver Sheriff’s Department were told not to report allegations of serious misconduct directly to the Internal Affairs Bureau, but rather alert the “command staff” who would then decide whether or not to report the allegation.
Other serious allegations included inappropriate touching of a sexual nature, throwing objects at an inmate, slurs based on sexual orientation, use of tasters, and refusal to accommodate disabilities. Following the publication of the report this week, the Sheriff’s Department said they would investigate the other 45 complaints. Because there was no investigation, it is unclear how many of the allegations will be proven true.
About 16 percent of all grievances were filed against just four deputies, out of a force of 700. According to the Denver Post, the Denver Sheriff refused to say if any personnel would be disciplined for ignoring allegations of serious misconduct.