No Charges For Cops Who Tasered Inmate to Death

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced yesterday there will be no criminal charges brought against the four deputy sheriffs who tased jail inmate Marvin Booker, put him face down in a cell, and sat on his back for 90 seconds, after which Booker died.

Booker, a homeless minister, was in the booking process on a petty offense charge of drug paraphernalia possession when he disobeyed a deputy's order to go to his cell, leaving his shoes behind. He wanted to take his shoes with him.

Morrissey said he viewed the video camera footage four times, the deputies were justified in their actions and Booker was responsible for his death:[More...]

"When an arrestee's conduct necessitates the use of physical force by the deputies to carry out their responsibilities, it is not a mutual combat event," Morrissey's statement says. "There is not supposed to be a fight. Arrestee compliance is not optional, it is mandatory."

Here is Morrissey's official statement. The officers still face an internal affairs investigation over whether they broke department rules .

Here's where Booker was sitting and where they wanted him to go.

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    Couldn't stomach much... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 10:17:05 AM EST
    of the DA's statement...he seems to place far too much responsibility on those in custody, and far too little on the custodians.

    A microcosm of US-style criminal justice at large...upmost responsibility is expected and demanded from free individual human beings, but not from faceless authoritarian systems.  

    did you actually read the statement? (none / 0) (#3)
    by nyrias on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:02:31 AM EST
    Here is what is in the statement:

    1. Mr Booker is continuing struggling and fighting.

    2. Mr Booker wasn't hit or kick at any time. There does not seem to be any intent to hurt him. All the forces, including the taser, was aimed at cuffing him and bringing him to a cell.

    3. All these was clearly shown in the video. If you accuse the DA of lying about the facts, free feel to provide any evidence.

    I don't think in a case like this, WHO Mr Booker is matters at all. It is the deputies job to restrain Mr Booker and put him in a cell (standard procedure). I don't see anything that they do are deviating from that goal, while trying to hurt Mr Booker.

    You think it is too much responsibility for those in custody not to physically fight the deputies? I disagree.


    Well (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:06:08 AM EST
    Maybe you can purchase the death video from the PO department. Sounds like they can use the money to buy some new electronic death sticks.

    that is a totally .. (none / 0) (#7)
    by nyrias on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:41:37 AM EST
    intellectually corrupt response without even considering the facts of the case.

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:48:59 AM EST
    Well I consider the sadistic pleasure you appear to get at each execution, quite unsettling.

    And it is particularly disgusting to me that you cloak your pleasure in moral righteousness.


    There is a lot of sadism (none / 0) (#13)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:55:32 AM EST
    coursing through the authoritarian mindset....

    Who is sicker:  those who resist arrest or those who get their jollies in inflicting pain on those arrested.  


    I think resisting arrest... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:26:15 AM EST
    is a natural instinct society is expecting all taken into custody to supress.  

    I don't think it is too much to ask of our authorities to realize it is natural to resist imprisonment, and to be properly trained to counter such natural resistance without ending up with a corpse on their hands.


    Really? (none / 0) (#6)
    by nyrias on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:40:42 AM EST
    How many arrests are done a day?

    How many arrestees actually PHYSICALLY FIGHT the restraints?

    And is there any specific action the deputies have done, that you find an intent to hurt/kill, beyond just to restrain? (assuming you believe the statement).

    Aside from tasing Mr Booker, ON THE LEG, the deputies, in this case, tried very hard to restrain, and NOT hurt Mr Booker. There is no kick, no hitting with objects, and no punching.

    And if tasing Mr Booker is the cause of death (which the coroner cannot confirm), then it is the maker of the taser that is liable, not the action of the deputies, if it is standard procedures to use a taser.


    Ha! I thought guns don't kill people, (none / 0) (#11)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:50:38 AM EST
    people kill people.

    But for the cops we have a new rule:  Cops don't kill people, tasers kill people....


    Oh, my dear friend kdog (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:52:14 AM EST
    In some far away universe in the future, people in custody will be treated as human beings.....

    See, the cops can kill anyone they want (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:48:32 AM EST
    with impunity.

    Just doing their job.

    What power you give them--without any accountability....

    I am not sure which is worse--the cops conduct or your excuses for them.  Support like yours just emboldens them more and makes them less careful and humane the next time....

    Do whatever you want, cops, a lot of people have your back.



    Criminal (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 10:36:04 AM EST
    Certainly these killers are more of a danger to society than the dead minister.

    How tragic.

    I feel less safe.

    That is the bottom line (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:48:58 AM EST
    Why a Tazer ? (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 02:24:48 PM EST
    Are the cops so docile, so lethargic, and so out of shape that 4+ of them couldn't reason or even force an inmate 30 feet ?

    And for the clown defending them, grow up, Tazers are suppose to be an alternative to legal force, not used as cattle prods because they are too damn lazy to do the jobs they signed up for.

    Loads of people would like to be cops, but they decline because of the risky nature of the profession.  Yet today, they act like they can do whatever they want to avoid any sort of actual confrontation.  I bet I have seen over 50 videos of improper and downright disgusting use of Tazers, yet I am to believe this one is legitimate.  The don't "Don't Taz me Bro" got it because he asked an improper question at a forum.

    I wonder how many non-violent people have died because of Tazer use from a police officer ?  More than guns I guarantee, because at least with a shooting there is a review, with a Tazer, it's the word of the officer.  I remember them using one on an 80 year old woman that called them over a domestic dispute.

    I also remember a report that said something like only 10% of police officers issued Tazers actually has the training to match.  It wouldn't hurt to find out if these officers were training properly.

    Tazers are suppose to be an alternative (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 03:29:42 PM EST
    Tazers are suppose to be an alternative to legal force
    You are 100% wrong.

    Tasers are supposed to get compliance while keeping the officers and others removed from physical danger.

    From the Taser website:

    TASER devices use proprietary technology to incapacitate dangerous, combative, or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement/correctional officers, innocent citizens, or themselves in a manner that is generally recognized as a safer alternative to other uses of force.  

    TASER technology protects life, and the use of TASER devices dramatically reduces injury rates for law enforcement officers and suspects.

    Riiiight (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 03:46:34 PM EST
    Just like we invaded Iraq because Sadaam had WMD's and when there were none we were there to liberate the Iraqi's with democracy.

    It is know an moving the goalposts.



    I Meant Lethal Force, my Bad. (none / 0) (#28)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:20:29 AM EST
    The claims on their website has nothing to do with reality.

    Find a gun manufacture that claims their guns are primarily used for criminal activities.

    Find a glass pipe manufacture's that claims their pipes are primary used for smoking crack.

    Find an adult toy manufactures that doesn't claim their products are for novelty.

    So yes, "sarcastic unnamed one" according the manufacture's PR department I am 100% wrong.
    That doesn't mean I am.

    Maybe you can pick you kids up at a go out in your Toyota, buy your kids some of those Chinese made toys that contain lead, feed them full of triglycerides, Gulf fish & shrimp, and wash it down with some high fructose syrup.  When they get fat, give them some Fen-phen and ground water containing mercury while letting them smoke at will in your asbestos latent home.

    After all, the manufactures of the above claimed each and every product they sold was 100% safe.

    Me, I will use my personal observations, scientific news, common sense, and other more objective means to decide what the products I purchase are safe.

    My point here, is who cares what Taser's PR firm says, their claims don't reconcile with the facts, they have a vested interested in the claims they make, and using them as some reliable source is laughable.

    Like I tell my aging mom, not everything you read on the internet is true, duh.


    Now you're just making stuff up. (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:31:11 AM EST
    What Did I make Up ? (none / 0) (#37)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 12:41:32 PM EST
    You are the one who thinks a products purpose and safety record should be derived from the products manufacturer.

    I simply pointed out wrong you are.


    get into with you when I realized you wrote
    Tazers are suppose to be an alternative to legal force
    however, I had misread it as
    Tazers are suppose to be an alternative to lethal force.

    I misread, my apologies, my comment was off-base.


    300+ deaths attributed (none / 0) (#46)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 02:22:45 PM EST
    to tasers in the U.S between 2001 and 2008 according to Amnesty International. They don't sound all that non-lethal to me.

    what I wrote, but you really are on a string of tangents today and I'm kinda busy, so...

    I'll Take the Blame for Than One. (none / 0) (#51)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 03:21:33 PM EST
    Legal Force, I really don't even know what that means.

    History (none / 0) (#30)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:33:08 AM EST
    TASER International CEO Rick Smith wanted to create a device that could be used in place of guns because of the death of two high school friends. They had died at the hands of a "guy with a legally licensed gun who lost his temper." Smith and his brother, Tim, began the search for what they called "safer use of force option[s] for citizens and law enforcement" and wound up working with inventor Cover to develop a "non-firearm electronic control device."

    It was developed to avoid deaths in the case where guns would have to be used.

    Clearly it has turned into a sadistic compliance by torture device, that has cause many needless deaths.


    "non-firearm electronic control device." (none / 0) (#32)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:35:57 AM EST
    iow, a cattle prod. Glad we agree.

    Not Surprised (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 12:51:09 PM EST
    That you would be an advocate for torturing animals too.

    Prior to the development of stun batons and the taser, electric cattle prods were also used on humans. Their first common usage on humans occurred during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; prods were first adopted by police officers in Alabama to use on African-American protesters and agencies elsewhere followed; Hotshot later developed an electric police baton.[1] A more recent example of human torture with a cattle prod came to surface when a video was disclosed showing Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of crown prince of Abu Dhabi inserting a cattle prod in an Afghan business associate's anus after falling out with him.[6] An electric prod can be an effective torture device for humans and other animals alike.[7] If applied continuously to the skin, the current eventually causes heating, searing, and burning and scarring of skin at the contact point.

    The picana is an electric prod based originally on the cattle prod but designed specifically for human torture. It works at very high voltage and low current so as to maximise pain and minimise the physical marks left on the victim. Among its advantages over other torture devices is that it is portable, easy to use, and allows the torturer to localize the electric shocks to the most sensitive places on the body, where they cause intense pain that can be repeated many times....

    By studying the psychology of the animals and redesigning the working environment it is possible to handle the animals without the need for brute force and causing pain and suffering to the animal. Significant work in this regard has been done by autistic Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin to study how cattle perceive the environment around them and to design better livestock slaughterhouse handling systems that do not induce fear into the animal.[

    Thanks for the grin.

    Why was he not allowed to have his shoes? (none / 0) (#14)
    by jawbone on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 12:48:18 PM EST
    Is it standard procedure to put arrestees in cells without their shoes?

    I mean, if the guy didn't want to lose his shoes by leaving them in the open sitting area, why was he not told 1) what would be done with his shoes and safeguards against theft or 2) why he could not have his shoes?


    I've been a guest of the men in blue (none / 0) (#15)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 01:03:52 PM EST
    a couple times in my life, and for sure one of the times I was instructed to take my shoes off. Can't remember if I had to the other time...

    Regardelss, sounds to me, and of course this is only a guess, like he was an arrestee who completely disregarded what the cop told him to do. I can't see that type of course of action ever working out well for an arrestee.


    That is not material ... (none / 0) (#21)
    by nyrias on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 04:21:29 PM EST
    if he is denied his shoes, I believe that the deputies are in the wrong, but only regarding whether Mr Booker is treated fairly BEFORE the violence started.

    In either case, that does not excuse Mr Booker to fight back physically. He should lodge a complaint through his lawyer, or demand a lawyer if he does not have one.

    Are you arguing that being denied of his shoes justify him using violence against the deputies?


    Key phrase: "fight back" (none / 0) (#41)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 01:14:26 PM EST
    as in, reacting with an instinctive, survival response to being physically assaulted by FOUR larger, stronger, persons.

    And, just when have the taxpayer-funded heroes from Law & Order EVER found any basis for a charge of wrong doing in any of these type of cases?

    It's been obvious for a long time that The Thin Blue Line's code of silence and nod-nod, wink-wink attitude towards brutality and automatic "ass whippings" for any resistance, extends to and includes the DA's office.

    The best any of us can do is to not to give them a reason; because a lot of them are just looking for one.



    um, he first "fought back" (none / 0) (#42)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 01:27:06 PM EST
    against one lone woman officer. An instinctive survival response is blinking when someone blows a puff of air in your eyes. He chose to "fight back."

    That said, I agree with your last sentence 100%.


    If you accept (none / 0) (#43)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 01:41:41 PM EST
    that "lone female officer story" at face value, more power to you. And sure, he "chose", just as in that neat, tidy, libertarian moral universe of yours he chose to be a homeless, crack addict. I mean, who wouldn't? Those people get all kinds of sympathy and free government handouts, after all.

    Having had some dealings with the police myself in my salad days (when I was green in learning), imo, the chances of that scenario of him going at a lone female in a police station being an accurate accounting of what actually transpired are slim to none.    


    Well, since the "lone female officer (none / 0) (#44)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 02:00:32 PM EST
    at the start of the confrontation" is what the various video tapes are reported to have recorded, I do accept the story. That said, I sure would like to see the tapes myself...

    Right, (none / 0) (#45)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 02:18:44 PM EST
    in the real world, what usually happens is that the person resists the "lone officer" for a few seconds, at which time they're pile-driven, choke-held, tased, sat upon, possibly given a "wood shampoo" (if you happen to be in New Orleans) etc by any number of the aforementioned others, some of whom were just waiting for someone to get them a reason..

    has to do with the tapes apparently showing him choosing to fighting back against a lone woman officer at the start of the confrontation.

    I do not dispute that LE will use force when dealing with non-compliance. However I do not agree that non-compliance is an uncontrollable instinct.


    I know for a fact (none / 0) (#48)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 02:59:22 PM EST
    that to SOME people, who have been directly exposed to a lot of violence, resiting and fighting back, even in a situation in which it makes no sense, is close to a very-difficult-to-control, instinctual response to what is perceived as a potentially life-threatening situation. Not enough cops understand this, even though many of them respond to force and resistance the same way themselves. Many of them seem to think that just eliciting a fear response means they will automatically be able to "control the situation", when all it does, with some people, is escalate the situation.

    the tape) chose to take his shoes off, then chose to try to go back and get them, then chose to disobey when he was told to stop, then chose to "fight back" against the lone woman officer when she grabbed his arm, etc.

    It's called crazy.. (none / 0) (#52)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 03:22:38 PM EST
    along with probably being drug addled, paranoid, malnourished, sleep deprived and any number of other things..

    The cops don't get enough of the right kind of training in learning how deal with people like that.
    Increased force, in itself, is just likely to make them more fearful, and or, paranoid, and again, the situation just spins more out of control.


    I really don't know anything about what (none / 0) (#53)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 03:30:14 PM EST
    kind of training the cops get in learning how to deal with people like that, but my gut tells my you are right in that they don't get enough.

    Didn't the coroner rule the death a homicide? (none / 0) (#19)
    by republicratitarian on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 03:47:44 PM EST
    I haven't seen the video so I can't comment on whether the use of force was justified. But I will say that no one in this country should ever lose their life to a police officer if they haven't used deadly force. There is absolutely no excuse for it.

    The wolves in charge will always cover for the wolves in the field. We see it every week in the news. There is no effective accountability.

    Did you read the statement from the DA? (none / 0) (#22)
    by nyrias on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 04:24:28 PM EST
    The deputies did NOT aim at hurting Mr Booker. There is no kicking, no punching, no hitting with another object.

    All they do is a) restraining the moving parts of his body (arms, legs + head), b) tase him, and c) sit on him.

    I don't believe there is the intent to use deadly force, if you believe the facts laid out in the report. Exactly why he went into cardiac arrest is unknown but NONE of the actions of the deputies were identified as a sole cause.

    I mean, if he suffered a heart attack because he got very angry at the deputies, does that count as "deadly force"?


    I'm sure that the police never mean to (none / 0) (#23)
    by republicratitarian on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 04:44:56 PM EST
    hurt anyone anyone before they kill them, pardon my sarcasm.

    The coroner ruled that this was a homicide, which means as I understand it that another human being caused his death and he didn't die of natural causes. I"m actually amazed that the coroner had the stones to rule it for what it was.

    You think he suffered a heart attack because he got very angry at the deputies?



    I think the thought is that he suffered (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 04:53:49 PM EST
    a heart attack in large part because of his pre-existing heart problems complicated by ingested cocaine/crack.

    Most likely factor related to death was exposure (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Rojas on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 07:05:16 AM EST
    I gather from your posts that you've been around bit and from some of the life experiences you've shared I'm guessing you probably didn't coast past the tough spots like some trust fund baby.

    Have you ever been homeless? Did you ever live on the street? Do you have any idea what it's like to do that with no shoes or bad shoes? If you have, or if you can put yourself in in place of someone who has, you'd know that a pair of shoes means survival. This guy was living on the street in Denver after all. The guy was completely rational to expect that if he went to the holding cell without his shoes he would never see them again.

    You are correct in posting that the cops will typically take your shoes and some other possessions during booking. Don't they generally have a procedure for that with a inventory taken while you watch and a paper signed?

    It seems pretty clear to me that a "sleeper hold" is deadly force. Tasers when used per the manufacturers recommendation will kill a certain percentage of the population. You can't say it's not deadly force. Hell, most people survive gun shot wounds for that matter. Whether the victim might of had a heart condition is irrelevant.

    Was this a reasonable use of deadly force? Using deadly force to gain compliance over such a trivial matter is reasonable now?

    I've got no problem with the use of deadly force to protect another or oneself, but this notion that a cop can raise the threat level to deadly force for any perceived slight is ludicrous. I would agree that there was likely a preexisting condition that led to this mans death. But that condition was with the cop doing the booking.


    You really should just read what I write, (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:34:02 AM EST
    not what you think is between the lines.

    yes it was ruled a homicide (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 06:50:46 PM EST
    but that just means someone killed him -- that a human being other than himself caused his death -- not that the killer committed a crime.

    Thanks for the clarification (none / 0) (#27)
    by republicratitarian on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 07:32:20 AM EST
    I have to separate the homicide from the fact that there is a killer or killers and not necessarily a crime.

    NOT JUSTIFIABLE (none / 0) (#54)
    by wonder on Fri Oct 01, 2010 at 06:31:11 PM EST
    <strong>Excerpt from DA Morrissey's Decision Letter:</strong>Mr. Booker was described, and is shown on the videos of the event, to be non-compliant, hostile, <u>profane</u>, and violent toward the female deputy who was attempting to process him into the facility. Mr. Booker made the specific choice not to follow the deputy's lawful and proper orders, <u>loudly raised his voice</u> and cursed at her...
    <u>ignored her directions, and walked away from her toward the open seating area</u>. Then, for reasons known only to Mr. Booker, <u>he chose to violently resist </u>the female deputy when she tried to contact, control and guide him to the secure cell away from the other arrestees in the open-seating area. It was the combination of these aggressive, non-compliant behaviors by Mr. Booker that drew the attention of other sheriff deputies....

    Two Observations....(1) How can the video show how loud he spoke (no audio for video)
    (2) If Mr. Booker was violently fighting why did the DA state the non-compliant behavior is what drew the attention of the other officers..(Not the violence????????) Deadly Force was not justifiable