The suspensions have been overturned for two of the Denver Sheriff’s Department deputies involved in the death of an inmate who suffocated while he was being restrained during a psychotic episode in 2015.
A letter overturning the suspensions from a hearing officer for the Denver Career Service Board was posted to the city’s website on Monday.
The two deputies, Carlos Hernandez and Bret Garegnani, were disciplined and accused of violating department policy in wake of the death of inmate Michael Marshall.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office declined to press criminal charges against them and the other four deputies involved in the Nov. 11 incident, arguing they were not trying to hurt the 50-year-old, 112-pound man.
Marshall was booked into the Denver jail on a nonviolent infraction on Nov. 7, 2015. He was pronounced dead at Denver Health on Nov. 20, 2015 after spending several days on life support.
The Denver Medical Examiner ruled Marshall’s death a homicide, saying it was “as a result of complications of positional asphyxia to include aspiration pneumonia due to physical restraint by law enforcement due to agitation during acute psychotic episode,” according to a news release from the law firm representing Marshall’s family.
The city of Denver has since agreed to pay a $4.65 million settlement to Marshall’s family as well as revamp how people with mental illness are treated at the Denver County Jail.
In the letter overturning the suspensions for the two deputies, the hearing officer argued that investigators failed to prove the use of force was unreasonable and inappropriate.
“Neither had any prior discipline,” the letter reads. “Both attempted to talk to Marshall to persuade him to comply with lawful orders and, when discovering those efforts were unavailing, used only that force required to prevent harm to responders; when Marshall’s heart stopped, both Appellants, and Garegnani in particular, engaged in extraordinary measures to save Marshall’s life, even when told by outside medical responders to cease resuscitative measures.”
You can read the full letter here: http://bit.ly/2yC2XAQ