Inmates in the Adams County, Co., jail call them the “slam crew:” jailers with short fuses, vulgar vocabularies and a predilection for unwarranted violence, according to one lawsuit, says the Denver Post. In Arapahoe County, a 350-pound deputy controlled an unruly inmate by shoving the inmate’s head toward his knees while he was strapped in a restraint chair, a lawsuit charges. The inmate died of positional asphyxiation, and the county paid $65,000 the inmate’s widow. In Boulder County, a deputy can be seen on video grabbing a homeless man, by the back of the neck and swinging him into an area outside of camera view. The county paid a $24,000 settlement to the inmate.
In each case, no deputy was disciplined. Excessive-force complaints have prompted millions of dollars in settlements or judgments in Denver, but jail deputies in surrounding counties also have been at the center of several cases that left inmates injured or dead. Denver paid a $3.2 million settlement to former inmate Jamal Hunter after his genitals were scarred in jail, and a federal court jury in October awarded the family of deceased jail inmate Marvin Booker $4.65 million. Sheriffs argue that physical force is often unavoidable in jail, where criminals fight each other and deputies without provocation. They say they all have programs to avoid and limit physical contact between deputies and inmates.