The U.S. Department of Justice is in the “threshold stage” of deciding whether to investigate Denver’s law enforcement agencies for civil-rights violations, reports the Denver Post. “We are reviewing the information to make a judgment and see if one is warranted,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil-rights division. After a decade of arrests involving alleged brutality, more than $6 million in settlements, questionable fatal shootings, and the recent death of a man in the Denver jail, some Denver residents renewed their call for a federal investigation of the city’s police and sheriff’s departments.
The most recent catalyst was the death of homeless preacher Marvin Booker, who died last year after a scuffle with Denver sheriff’s deputies in the jail. The deputies were cleared of wrongdoing. This week, a video surfaced showing a deputy using a chokehold on an inmate in the same jail. The Sheriff Department, which runs the jail, is separate from Denver police, but community groups still lump them together when citing what they call a pattern of abuses by law enforcement. “Denver will cooperate fully if an investigation into Denver’s law enforcement practices is launched,” said Mayor Guillermo “Bill” Vidal.