Unsealed documents show problems at Denver jail
Denver • Despite objections from Denver city officials, a federal judge on Thursday unsealed police internal affairs records after determining that a police investigation "smacks of a scam."
The documents describe a Denver jail pod out of control with a sheriff's deputy routinely viewing pornography and drinking on the job, directing inmates to assault each other and settling scores with inmates he didn't like.
The documents stem from a case filed by a former Denver jail inmate who said he was beaten and tortured by other inmates at the direction of a deputy assigned to oversee his jail pod.
They also include a transcript of a prison interview between police Sgts. Brian Cotter and Brad Lenderink of Denver's Internal Affairs Office and former jail inmate Amos Page. The police officers warned Page that by testifying in former inmate Jamal Hunter's civil suit, he could be implicating himself in a crime.
Another report documents a 2011 incident in which Deputy Edward Keller grabbed Hunter by the neck and shoved him down on his bunk.
U.S. District Judge John Kane ordered the documents and related video released. Kane has asked federal prosecutors to investigate the "patterns and practices" of the police and sheriff's departments.
Sheriff's Deputy Gaynel Rumer is both the subject of a criminal investigation and the defendant in a lawsuit in which he is accused of allowing inmates to attack another jail inmate.
Hunter has sued the city, accusing Rumer of facilitating and encouraging a brutal 2011 attack against him in his cell.
Rumer did not come to Hunter's aid while he screamed as inmates beat him and scalded his genitals.
Also on Thursday, an affidavit by Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson was filed with the court that says he referred the investigation of Rumer to Denver police, which follows protocol in a criminal investigation and was in accordance with Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell.
But Mitchell said he did not, "at any point recommend that (internal affairs) conduct a criminal investigation into the behavior of the inmate(s)... ."
Denver police chief Robert White said he is confident his internal affairs officers did nothing wrong.
"I'm pretty comfortable the outcome will be OK," he said.
White also said it is not unusual for the police department's internal affairs officers to investigate complaints at the sheriff's department or any other city department.
"We welcome the investigation if the judge deems it appropriate, and we're pretty comfortable with the conduct of the officers," he said.
According to a transcript of the interview, one of the sergeants explains repeatedly that he is not investigating Page for a crime, but warned him that "you implicate yourself in a felony crime that happened in the jail for some lawyers... ."
Among the documents released was a conduct review report of an incident that happened on July 31, 2011.
After Hunter allegedly called Keller a racist and cursed, the deputy grabbed Hunter by the neck and shoved him down on his bunk while other deputies tased him twice and grabbed him. Keller was later suspended for 30 days for excessive force.
In an affidavit signed by Page, he accused Rumer of frequently being drunk, once catching the deputy with a thermos filled with vodka.
He said Rumer brought pornography magazines into the pod and sold them for $3 a page or $10 in soda pop tokens for a magazine.
"Rumer would let me control the pod," Page's affidavit says. "Rumer would allow me to give other inmates violations such as 50 punches to the chin or straight up two minutes (with four homies)."
The punishment was dealt in the cleaning closet or the shower. "If someone left without a pumpkin head I would make it happen again." Rumer would unlock the closet and turn lights off in the bathroom to enable the beat downs, the inmate alleged.
He would lock down all cells in the pod and let an inmate out of his cell that he wanted beaten and Page and three other "trustees" would do the beat down.
"I was his muscle," the report said.
Rumer would tell Page who the snitches and sex offenders were. It was Rumer who told Page that Hunter was snitching, "clearly trying to pour gas on a fire."
After a beat down that left Hunter's blood on the walls, Rumer merely motioned to Page to clean it up, Page's affidavit said.
Rumer has denied the allegations against him.
Staff reporter Noelle Phillips contributed to this report.