DENVER (AP) — Two Denver jail deputies and a supervisor are being disciplined in the death of a homeless jail inmate who suffocated while being restrained during a psychotic episode.
The city announced Wednesday that the three would be suspended without pay for between 10 and 16 days. The deputies also must undergo remedial training in the use of force.
Fifty-year-old Michael Marshall died in 2015 after he was restrained in a prone position for several minutes after he became aggressive toward another inmate and ignored commands. He choked on his own vomit and suffocated.
Experts say the common but risky tactic can be lethal, especially on those with medical problems and the mentally ill, whose distress is sometimes confused with resistance.
Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, saying the deputies weren’t trying to hurt Marshall.
Attorneys for Marshall’s family said the discipline is inadequate and suggested the guards should have been fired, if not prosecuted. They also said there were up to 11 people present while Marshall, who weighed about 110 lbs. (50 kilograms), was being restrained who should have also been disciplined.
“There are multiple people in law enforcement and medical personnel that were involved in Mr. Marshall’s death. Three people will be disciplined and the discipline is laughably light. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious,” said attorney Darold Killmer. “It’s especially inadequate since we know that this isn’t the first or the second or third time people have died at the hands of Denver law enforcement.”
Marshall’s niece, Natalia Marshall, said her uncle would have turned 51 on May 10th.
“They took someone away from us in such a horrible and horrific way and there’s not body on this earth who ever deserves to be tortured like that,” Marshall said,
Killmer said they’re considering filing a civil lawsuit.
In 2014, the city paid $6 million to the family of Marvin Booker, a homeless street preacher who died after a struggle with jail deputies.
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