November 1, 2017 / 9:26 PM / 2 years ago

Denver to pay $4.6 million in black inmate's death

DENVER (Reuters) - The city of Denver has agreed to pay $4.6 million to relatives of a black inmate who suffocated after jail deputies subdued him during a psychotic episode in 2015, both sides said on Wednesday.

In addition to the payout to the family of Michael Marshall, which must be approved by the city council later this month, Denver will revise its policy on how deputies deal with mentally ill prisoners, city attorney Kristin Bronson said in a statement.

“After extensive evaluation of the facts and the possible outcomes of a costly trial, we made the difficult decision to propose a multifaceted settlement,” she said.

Bronson said settling the case would avert a lawsuit the family was planning to file.

Marshall’s brother, Rodney Marshall, said the family was satisfied with the settlement.

“If Michael could have been treated as a man in medical need, instead of like a criminal who was disobeying orders, he would still be alive today,” Rodney Marshall said.

Marshall, 50, was a schizophrenic who refused to take his medication while in the jail, and choked on his own vomit when deputies tried to subdue him after he acted erratically, authorities said.

His death came amid nationwide scrutiny of police killings of African-American men, which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement.

Denver’s district attorney at the time declined to pursue criminal charges against the deputies in the Marshall case, but earlier this year two officers and a supervisor were suspended over the incident.

The sheriff’s department will hire two full-time mental health professionals, and provide additional training for deputies on use of force at the city’s two lockups, the city said.

In 2014 a federal jury in Denver awarded $4.6 million to the family of a black 56-year-old homeless preacher who died after an altercation with deputies as he was booked into the city jail.

Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Andrew Hay

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