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ACLU Demands Denver Release Booker Videotape

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2011
Contact: Rosemary Harris Lytle, Communications Director
303.777.5482, ext. 111 (office) 719.233.0243 (cell)

The ACLU of Colorado today filed a written request with the office of Denver Department of Safety Manager Charles Garcia to release video footage, documenting the death of Marvin L. Booker, the street preacher who died July 9, 2010 while in custody at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.

The request, filed pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, seeks all videotaped footage, depicting Mr. Booker’s interaction with Denver sheriff’s personnel on that evening.

Though Denver District Attorney Mitchell R. Morrisey ruled September 28, 2010 that the force used by sheriff’s deputies was justified and no criminal charges would be filed against those involved in the death of Mr. Booker, the city has never released the videotape footage which formed the basis of that decision.

“The video footage recorded on jail cameras is directly referenced five times in the District Attorney’s Decision Statement, and indirectly referenced many more times throughout the document. Still, the city has continued to refuse the public’s requests for the video release,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “If it is the video footage that helped the District Attorney reach the decision that no criminal charges should be filed in Mr. Booker’s death, the ACLU believes that the residents of Denver have a right to see that same footage.”

The written request from the ACLU also references the city’s pending administrative investigation. But Silverstein said the release of the video footage could not possibly prejudice that administrative investigation.

“All the witnesses have been interviewed. Those who must make the decisions now will rely on their own evaluations of the evidence. But it has been nine months since Mr. Booker’s life ended in that jail. It’s unconscionable that the public has been kept in the dark this long. Everyone agrees that only the videotapes can show us what happened that evening.”

At an ACLU Mayoral Candidates Police Accountability Forum April 7, each of the eight candidates present said that if elected Mayor of Denver she or he would support the release of the videotape footage in Mr. Booker’s death. “We are calling on those who are currently in leadership in the city – Mayor Bill Vidal and Public Safety Manager Garcia – to do no less than immediately approve the release of the tapes,” Silverstein said.

To view the forum, and see how candidates answered questions about police discipline and restoring trust in Denver’s police departments, click on this link:

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