Denver Police Officer Eric Sellers once choked an innocent pedestrian into unconsciousness while two other officers refused to intervene. This was an act of summary “street justice” imposed as a penalty for “contempt of cop”: The victim, a volunteer fire fighter named Jared Lunn, had been assaulted at a nearby club and had told Sellers that he wanted to press charges. When Sellers dismissively told Lunn to go home, the 21-year-old disgustedly muttered “Way to `protect and serve.’” Such impudence on the part of a Mundane simply can’t be tolerated.
A few weeks later, Sellers attacked a young man named John Crespin because the officer thought the kid acted “nosy.” Without cause or warrant, Sellers pulled up into the driveway of Sellers’ home and ordered him out of his car. When Crespin complied, his shoulder brushed lightly against the officer’s arm – an incidental contact that left Sellers feeling defiled.
So the officer seized the young man in a chokehold and spit a stream of obscenities in his face. After handcuffing Crespin, Sellers used his police baton to lift the young man a couple of feet from the ground, then dropped him face-first into the driveway. He then brutally beat him into a bloody, lumpy mess before charging him with “felony menacing.”
In March 2008, a disabled Iraq veteran named James Moore was nearly beaten to death on the sidewalk outside his apartment by a thugscrum of Denver officers. After being hog-tied, choked, and pummeled, Moore briefly flat-lined while he was being treated by EMTs.
The lead assailant was Officer Shawn Miller. Two days earlier, Miller and his partner severely beat a pedestrian named Jason Graber, leaving him with a broken knee and a permanent disability. Graber, alarmed over Miller’s reckless driving, had gesture for the officer to slow down. That prompted Miller to stop and treat the uppity Mundane to a dose of law and order.
During a November 2010 incident in a secure apartment building, Miller cursed at, browbeat, threatened, battered, and abducted a disabled woman named Doreen Salazar because of her perceived tardiness in buzzing him and his partner into the residential area. Security camera video shows Miller snarling at the small, middle-aged woman, pushing her, and cornering her near an elevator. He then slammed her face-first into the elevator door, handcuffed her, and held her in his patrol car for about ten minutes – a sadistic act that served no purpose other than to terrorize an uppity Mundane who had failed to respect Miller’s supposed authority.
Neither Sellers nor Miller, nor dozens of other Denver cops who routinely commit violent crimes against the innocent, has ever been punished. John Copeland isn’t as fortunate.
Two weeks ago, the elderly man – who is hard of hearing – used his cane to defend himself from what he thought was an attack in a parking lot. The assailant was a volunteer police officer. A few days later, several police later materialized and dragged Copeland out of bed in the middle of the night. He has been jailed on suspicion of felony assault – not because of the severity of his supposed offense, but because of the identity of the supposed victim.
A few weeks ago, Denver’s Police Union – which, in the face of fierce competition, has distinguished itself as one of the most corrupt, arrogant, and petulant in the country – erected a billboard to protest what it considers improper changes in the city’s all-but-nonexistent police disciplinary system.
“Gangs or Cops – Which Would You Rather Have On Your Streets?” asks the billboard, as if the question dealt with a significant material distinction.