Denver Seeks Reduction in $4.65 Million Marvin Booker Verdict
November 14, 2014
Rev. Spencer Booker and Rev. Timothy Tyler hold a press conference following the Marvin Booker civil trial verdict. It took four years before the Booker family received a jury trial and they are still seeking closure.
I sat in the downtown Denver federal courtroom and listened to the 700-dollar-per-hour defence expert testify that those of us who saw the video of five Denver deputies restraining Marvin Booker to death were unqualified to see what we were seeing. If that was not enough, the defense narrative in the Booker Estate vs. The City and County of Denver was simply unbelievable—Marvin Booker the 58-year-old homeless street preacher who weighed a whopping 138-pounds killed himself.
After two weeks of ridiculous testimony, and watching the infamous videotape everyday forward, backward, slow-speed, high-speed, up and down, there was simply no way Denver's outside legal team could overcome countless deputy discrepancies that were higher than the Rocky Mountains, and more omnipresent than recreational marijuana. For example, notwithstanding nearly five-hundred-pounds of deputy weight on Booker's 138-pound body as well as a chokehold, he was Tased while handcuffed.
The defense argued the Taser had no effect on Booker, however, they were not able to produce the Taser in court. Yes, there are stringent regulations regarding weapons deployed by deputies, but for some reason the Taser along with any associated data disappeared. Poof! Just like that, gone without a trace. Also gone were the required reports following an in-custody death, well in fairness, the reports didn’t disappear. They simply were never completed. Opps.
In the end, the jury saw through the smoke and mirrors and awarded the Booker estate $4.65 million. Although city officials are standing by the actions of the five deputies, they are simultaneously admitting something must be done to correct the wayward culture within the Denver Sherriff’s Department.
And in an interesting twist in the four-year-saga that has gone on too long, the city has gone back to the federal judge and requested a reduction in punitive damages. Why? The city is claiming excessive fees while guilty of excessive force. Imagine that! They would rather pay a little over $1 million dollars and call Booker's death even, or head back to court. In otherwords, the city is now seeking to settle after choosing not to settle.
I hope the federal judge is not like those Denver parking magistrates. The ones we all face when seeking a reduction in our excessive parking and street sweeping tickets. Like the City of Denver after the Booker verdict, we know the outcome, but pull our number and cross our fingers anyway. “There’s nothing I can do,” says the parking magistrate. “The meter expired and you must pay.”
The city should do like the rest of us, get in line and go pay the cashier. If not, one day Denver is gonna wake up to that Denver Boot. Ching. Ching.