Two Denver policemen fired over beating of gay man

DENVER Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:28pm EDT

Related Topics

DENVER (Reuters) - Two Denver police officers were fired on Friday for the 2009 beating of a gay man, captured on a surveillance camera, and then lying about the incident.

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.

Denver's then-safety manager, Ron Perea, suspended the two officers for three days, a decision that outraged Denver's gay and Hispanic communities.

Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman had recommended the officers be terminated.

Interim Mayor Bill Vidal said Friday the firings were a "just conclusion to a troubling incident."

"The lesson to be learned by all of us as public servants is that we must always act in a manner that we would be proud of, no matter who is watching," Vidal said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

FILED UNDER: