New videos show alleged cases of excessive force at Denver Jail

DENVER — The Denver Manager of Safety’s office released two new videos showing separate incidents inside the Denver Jail Friday. That happened just as a federal judge accepted a settlement where the city will pay a record $3.25 million to a former jail inmate who was abused in the jail and then sued the city.

The videos are newly released but they are several years old. The city says its new policy is to release these videos after the discipline process is complete.

Both are hard to watch and both raise continued questions about the culture that is tolerated at Denver Jail. You can see them in Justin Joseph’s video report above.

One is from December 2012 in which inmate Robbie Martinez approaches deputy Steven Valerio who is sitting behind a desk. Unprovoked, it appears Valerio lashes out and hits the inmate. He then rushes around and as the inmate cowers, deputy Valerio takes him down and strikes him repeatedly.

Valerio was fired. He is now appealing that decision.

The second video is from September 2013. Inmate Isaiah Moreno is on suicide watch. After he beats his head against a wall a large number of Denver Sheriff’s deputies are in the cell with their Tasers drawn.

According to official discipline reports, as the inmate sits calmly, Sgt. Ned St. Germain orders deputies to fire, knocking Moreno to the ground unconscious. Sgt. St. Germain was suspended. He is also appealing his discipline.

Three other deputies received written warning for not filing any paperwork about the use of force.

“I’m a citizen of this city and every one of these stories take a little from me,” Mayor Michael Hancock said on Monday. That was during a news conference in which he announced that Sheriff Dough Wilson resigned.

Now, just five days later, the Denver Manager of Safety’s office releases these videos.

Earlier in the week the mayor made the decision to change direction after a string of excessive force incidents culminated in the $3.25 million payout to Jamal Hunter for the beating he received in jail in 2011. The announcement of the record-setting settlement happened Wednesday.

Analysts say the massive sum is an effort to keep other damning evidence of official misconduct from going public at trial.

A federal judge approved the settlement Friday. “There’s a lot of things going on here and my guess is the judge wanted to compel the city to do certain things are a result of this settlement,” says legal analyst Dan Recht.

But Judge John Kane is so outraged that he earlier called for a federal investigation of the Denver Jail, the Denver Police Department and the Denver City Attorney’s office.