By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Black community leaders are staging a rally today to demand accountability for the death of a Denver jail inmate who died at the hands of five sheriff officers.
The non-violent march is starting today at 4:30 p.m. at 14th and Bannock St. and will end at the Justice Center. Community activist Alvertis Simmons is helping lead the march to show support for Marvin Booker, a black man who was choked, tased and pinned down by officers before dying at the Denver jail on July 9.
“What happened to Marvin Booker should not happen to anyone anytime anywhere no matter what race or color they are,” said Simmons. “That’s why we’re together as a community.”
When the march and rally ends at the Justice Center, Simmons plans on being escorted inside the center to issue a list of five demands. The demands are:
Ą Eliminate the type of chokehold that was used on Booker before his death. Officers have been told not to use the chokehold for the time being, though it’s possible local law enforcement agencies could bring the chokehold back in the future;
Ą The five deputies who handled Booker prior to his death must be suspended without pay. The deputies are currently on paid leave while the investigation into Booker’s death is being carried out;
Ą The coroner must specifically list the cause of death or Booker. Although the coroner ruled the death a homicide, which doesn’t necessarily imply wrongdoing, he listed several factors that could have contributed to the death, including the cocaine in his system and the officers sitting on him;
Ą Release the tape of the jail that shows the “killing” of Booker.
Simmons is also demanding that there is a grassroots effort to determine the next Denver manager of safety. Manager of Safety Ron Perea resigned last month after receiving intense pressure for not taking stricter discipline against officers accused of using excessive force. Mary Malatesta is the city’s interim manager of safety.
Rev. Patrick Demmer, who appeared along with Simmons at a press conference yesterday, said while he met Perea and thought he was a “fine man,” he wasn’t ready for the manager of safety job.
“As citizens, the manager of safety needs to cause the citizens to feel safe,” he said. “He works for us.”
Denver Sheriff Spokesman Frank Gale said the sheriff department would take a look at Simmons’ list of demands.
“Certainly we’re very interested in anything the community has to say about the operation of the facility and the agency,” he said. “We want to hear what anybody has to say about the operation of the facility and the agency.”
The investigation into the death of Booker is still ongoing. Gale could not comment on the details of the case due to the ongoing investigation.
According to multiple media outlets, Booker died of cardio respiratory arrest as Denver sheriff officers penned him down. Booker reportedly got into a scuffle with sheriff officers while he was trying to get his shoes. Sheriff officers reportedly shocked Booker Ń a 150-pound 56-year-old homeless man Ń choked him and held him down to the ground.