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Witness, victim respond after 2 DPD officers reinstated

3:40 PM, Jan 14, 2012   |    comments
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Officers Kevin Devine and Ricky Nixon, accused of excessive force and lying on reports, received full reinstatement and back-pay after a decision by the Civil Service Commission.

Hearing officers Susan Eckert, Lawrence Leff and Rhonda Rhodes ordered that Officers Kevin Devine and Ricky Nixon return to work after their termination in April 2011.

The two officers were seen on video in July 2009 at the Denver Diner near Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue wrestling handcuffed women to the ground and spraying them in the face with pepper spray.

The city fired Devine and Nixon, who were accused of lying on their reports about the incident by making it appear they were defending themselves.

"What more evidence does the city need to keep these officers off the street?" asked Miriam Pena, Co-Executive Director of the Colorado Progressive Coalition, who witnessed the incident.

She called on Denver City officials to appeal the decision to reinstate the officers, because of the clear video evidence in the case.

"If all this talk about restoring the public trust meant anything to them, an appeal has to be filed," she said.

"I'm upset. I'm very hurt," Ana Ortega told 9Wants to Know.
Ortega says she was one of the women who was pepper sprayed.

"Reinstating these officers... it makes people think twice about calling 911," Ortega said. "I don't trust the Denver Police Department."

Ortega is a plaintiff in a lawsuit along with three other people.
More reaction also came from the victim of a beating on January 15, 2009.

Alex Landau settled for $795,000 with the City of Denver, after he says police beat him, severely injuring his face.

Officer Ricky Nixon was involved in both Landau's case, and the Denver Diner incident.

"I'm mixed emotions really, disappointment, anger outrage," Landau said. "I feel like we've all been deceived as a community."

"They're endangering the lives of every single citizen of Colorado," attorney Siddhartha Rathod said of the commission.

According to the commission's ruling on Jan. 13, the panel found officers Devine and Nixon didn't lie or intend to put inaccurate information in their reports.

The commission was sympathetic to the officers' perception of the events because of the chaos of the evening: "Based on the chaos of the evening the credibility of the lay witnesses and the police officers as to their truthfulness cannot in good faith be challenged.

The witnesses and the officers attempted to recollect the incidents in good faith, but at times those recollections were inaccurate."

Denver Police Chief Robert White, who just took on the position late last year, couldn't speak much about the case because of his unfamiliarity with the details.

White did sit down with 9Wants to Know and said the case will be reviewed.

"I certainly can't say at this point if the city will appeal this," White said. "What I will say, certainly speaking for the police department and myself, that it certainly raises the antenna of why this happened."

Late Friday, attorney Brian Reynolds, who represents Devine and

Nixon sent 9Wants to Know the following statement:

"The fact of the matter is, the Denver Civil Service Commission panel's decision reflects an objective, honest and thorough consideration of all the evidence and the testimony of the witnesses and participants in the Denver Diner incident. In reviewing the actual evidence and testimony, as opposed to what has been portrayed in the media, the panel found that 'in reviewing the HALO, the written reports and the transcripts of the officers, the Panel finds Officers Devine's and Nixon's statements and testimonies were consistent with what happened and were not deceptive.' The officers' reports, statements, and testimony were all consistent with that finding."

Denver Manager of Safety, Alex Martinez, released this statement:

"The Manager of Safety's office is committed to fair and impartial decision making based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. While I respect the authority of the Civil Service Commission hearing officers, as with every case where the disciplinary decision is overturned, I will review the decision and consult with the city attorney's office to decide if it is appropriate to pursue an appeal."

In September, Denver's Civil Service Commission reinstated Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr. They were fired for using inappropriate force and lying in reports about a beating that was caught on tape in Lower Downtown Denver in April 2009.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has called for an appeal of the decision to reinstate Sparks and Murr.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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