July 18, 2010

Witnesses Describe Brutal Taser-Murder by Denver Police of Marvin Booker

This blog has been tracking taser-related deaths for quite awhile. In most cases we only hear one side of the story because the other side of the story has been electrocuted to death.

I bet that the Denver police officers who pumped multiple taser jolts into the helpless body of Marvin Booker wish that they could tell the only side of the story.

Thanks to the Kirk Mitchell and the Denver Post we get to hear the other side of the story.

Witnesses at the Denver jail tell the story of how deputies were processing Booker on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. At some point during the processing the deputies felt that Booker was disobedient, he was held down, hit with electric taser gun shocks and then placed facedown in a holding cell, according to two inmates who watched it unfold.

Booker never got up. He was pronounced dead later that morning.

"I've never seen anything happen like that before in my life," said John Yedo, 54, who was being processed on a charge of destruction of property and said he witnessed the scene. "What I saw is not what you'd expect to see in America."
The two jail witnesses, who were both arrested in the early-morning hours of July 9 around the time Booker was being processed, were contacted and interviewed by The Denver Post separately. Both of them said they had not been questioned by police investigating the death of Booker, a homeless ordained minister who served the poor, but also a habitual criminal with a long string of arrests.

Yedo has had one prior arrest, in 1974 on a drug charge. Christopher Maten, 25, the other witness, was arrested in 2005 for public consumption of alcohol. Neither is a career criminal. The versions the two suspects tell are nearly identical.

"I can't breathe..."
Both say that Booker, 56, was asleep in a chair in a holding area of the jail when his name was called and he was ordered to a processing desk.

Half-asleep about 3 a.m., Booker walked to the desk in his socks, forgetting to put on his shoes. The female deputy ordered Booker to sit in a chair in front of the desk.

Booker responded that he wished to stand. When the deputy threatened to have him placed in a holding cell if he didn't sit, Booker told her he would go to the holding cell, said Maten, who had been arrested that morning for resisting arrest in a confrontation with a parking-meter attendant.

" 'Let me get my shoes,' " Maten quoted Booker as saying as he walked toward the chairs to get his shoes.

The deputy yelled at him repeatedly to stop, got up and followed Booker. Booker turned and repeated that he was getting his shoes, Maten said.

The deputy grabbed Booker by the arm and put a lock on him, Yedo said. Booker, who was 5 feet 5 and weighed 175 pounds, pushed her away. At that point, four other deputies wrestled Booker to the concrete floor. They slid down two steps to the floor in the sitting area. Yedo said the deputies each grabbed a limb while he struggled.

" 'Get the Taser. Get the Taser,' " Yedo quoted one of the deputies as saying.

Yedo said he was only about 3 feet away, and Maten said he was close enough that if he stood and took one step, he could reach out and touch one of the deputies.

None of the deputies involved in the restraint has been identified. One female deputy was treated at a hospital for an injury she suffered in the confrontation, Gale said.

A fifth deputy put Booker in a headlock just as the female deputy began shocking him with a Taser with encouragement from one of the deputies, who kept repeating, "Probe his ---," Maten said. He could hear the Taser crackle repeatedly.

Booker said, "'I can't breath... ," Yedo heard. Then, Booker went limp.

Booker's wrists were handcuffed behind his back in an awkward position when the deputies picked him up, each holding an arm or a leg, and carried him stomach-down to a holding cell with an unbreakable glass door.

They set him down on his stomach, with much of his weight on one shoulder and his legs bent, Yedo said. They took the handcuffs off and without checking his pulse, the officers left him on the floor of the holding cell.

The deputies walked away high-fiving and laughing, Maten said. Several inmates were saying, " 'I can't believe they're doing this,' " Maten said.

Yedo said he stared at Booker, watching his chest, which wasn't moving. One deputy had stayed next to the cell and was also staring at Booker.

"I told the guy, 'Hey, that guy is not breathing,' " Yedo said.

The deputy turned and yelled at the sergeant.

" 'Sergeant, come here. Sergeant, hurry,' " Yedo said he yelled.

It should be interesting to see how this case turns out. Don't ya think?!


Gunfighter said...

So.... he was fighting with the Deputies and got tased. What is the issue?

Where do you get "murder" over this?

Villager said...

Gunfighter - From the witness reports it appears that the deputies were using their taser as a tool of torture (tase him in the nuts). It also appears that once they had overpowered and tased this frail elderly man into a coma ... they left him there without quickly getting medical attention.

These deputies are going to be in trouble ... mostly because this time there is a living witness(es).

Gunfighter said...

Do we know that he was tasered in the testicles? or have we just heard this from two criminal suspects who may have an axe to grind?

How long was he left without medical attention?

Have we been able to ascertain the intent of the officers?

So far, as far as a murder charge is concerned, there is nothing.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - I can't answer many of your questions. I do wonder why the Denver Police Department hasn't released the video from the jail where the taser-killing occurred. Police are quick to release video if they think it supports their point-of-view. No video. Therefore, it's my view that the video supports the POV of the witnesses quoted in this blog post.

I suspect that the intent of the police officers was to punish this elderly preacher for what they perceived to be 'disrespect'. Police tend to over-react if they feel disrespected.

In this case, the over-reaction resulted in a death.