Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Denver DA Won’t File Charges against Corrections Deputies Responsible for Inmate’s Death

with 2 comments

The indispensable Solitary Watch has been reporting from/on Colorado lately. Here’s their latest story:

As we were preparing to make our recent trip to Colorado, the district attorney in Denver decided not to file criminal charges against the group of corrections deputies who, according to the coroner, were responsible for the death of an inmate in a local jail.

Marvin Booker, who was preacher and homeless, was 56 years old. He was 5-foot-5 and weighed 135 pounds, and suffered from emphysema and an enlarged heart. Back in July, Booker was arrested on the misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, and he was waiting to be booked when a conflict arose. All of it was caught on video, which the state refuses to make public. DA Mitch Morrissey said in a statement that Booker refused to follow an order from a female deputy, then cursed her and “violently resisted.” …

But DA Morrissey insists that Booker alone was responsible for his own demise. “Mr. Booker’s actions and choices resulted in his death,” he said in a statement, suggesting that unruly behavior by a prisoner justifies a use of force sufficient to kill him. “Had he complied, had he given them his arms, had he gone to the holding cell when he was asked to,” Morrissey said, ”this never would have happened.”

So, here’s one reason of many to end the War on Drugs: police wouldn’t be able to arrest and book people on charges like “misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.” In the meantime, take note: if you’re ever arrested in Denver, show anything less than total physical submission to the guards who are booking you, and apparently it’s your own fault if four guards lay on top of you and a fifth Tasers you, and you stop breathing and die. More from DA Morrissey: “Arrestee compliance is not optional, it is mandatory.” Combine that stance on the part of state officials with the Supreme Court’s position that pretextual or spiteful arrests on petty charges don’t violate the Constitution, and you have a pretty terrifying state of affairs.

Leaders from Denver’s black community have called for an FBI investigation.

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Written by sara

October 18, 2010 at 9:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. Last week, at the Pekin Federal Women’s Prison CAMP, 34-year-old Vanessa Griffee, (flower child descendant; member of “the Rainbow Family), and in federal prison, mind you, for mailing LSD to someone over state lines, died in her Pekin cot of a brain aneurysm. She had complained of persistent head aches, and was told by “medical” staff that the cause was her sinuses. She was the mother of a 2-year old.

    Ruth Carter

    October 19, 2010 at 4:15 am

    • I knew Vanessa for a short while in 2001 when I lived in Dallas, and she was always a good-hearted person and a dependable friend. So sorry to hear about her death. She’ll be missed.

      Eric Thompson

      October 30, 2010 at 10:06 am


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