Denver Police fire officer for using inappropriate force with female suspect

Dismissal comes as police force is accused of not turning on their body cameras

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The Independent US

Denver Police fired an officer this week after he was accused of using inappropriate force with a woman in a holding cell last summer.

The incident was recorded on CCTV from the jail, and the dismissal came in a week that saw an independent report allege that, during a trial run of body cameras, only one in four "use-of-force" cases involving Denver police officers were recorded by the department.

The video appears to show Officer James Medina talking to Seryina Trujillo in her cell after she has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Suddenly, the pair begin to struggle and Medina seems to place his knee on Trujillo's neck, forcing the suspect to collapse on the floor. He takes her shoes off and walks out of the cell just as Trujillo appears to wake up from the floor.

The police said that Medina did not offer Trujillo any medical attention after she appeared to fall unconscious. Furthermore, they claim that he did not report the incident to the department, with news of the event only emerging four days later after another officer told a supervisor about the incident.

Commander Matt Murray said Medina's actions were not in line with the department's values, adding: "We have repeatedly talked about the fact there is a culture of change within the Denver Police Department demanded by the community and this is a part of it."

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Medina, who has been with Denver Police force for 16 years, is appealing his dismissal. His attorney said his actions were reasonable and Medina accused Trujillo of scratching and biting him. The attorney, Donald Sisson, added that Medina did not report the incident because the officer did not think Trujillo was injured.

This week, Denver independent monitor Nick Mitchell released a report suggesting that a trial of body cameras by the police department in the city was not being properly utilised by officers. The report found that one in four cases where officers had thrown punches, hit people with batons or used pepper spray or tasers had not been filmed during the six-month trial.

 

This was due to a number of factors, such as officers not turning on their cameras, technical issues or because there were just not enough cameras provided to the whole force.

The Denver Police Department has argued against Mitchell's findings, suggesting that a higher number of "use-of-force" incidents were captured by the body cameras.

The use of force by police officers across the country has become a major issue in the US ever since the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August last year.

On Wednesday, Ferguson police Chief Tom Jackson announced he would resign his post effective 19 March, in the wake of a damning report from the US Department of Justice, which found evidence of systematic bias against Ferguson’s black population in the city’s police department and courts.

Two police officers were shot in Ferguson during a protest outside the police station following Jackson's announcement.

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