On Monday, members of the Denver Sheriff's Department held a rally to call on city officials for more support amid complaints about excessive force. But angry residents showed up to shame the deputies, carrying a sign that called them "murderous crybabies," KCNC-TV reported.
The sign carried the message, "Stop whining, murderous crybabies" alongside a picture of Marvin Booker, a homeless street preacher who died in July 2010 while being booked into the local jail. After being handcuffed and choked, Booker was hit with a Taser for eight seconds, and died shortly afterward. His cause of death was listed at the time as "cardiorespiratory arrest during physical restraint."
Booker's family has since filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and five deputies involved in restraining Booker at the time of his death. An attorney for the city argued on Sept. 22 that Booker's death was spurred by heart problems connected to prior drug abuse, and compounded by his resisting officers.
The lawsuit follows a $3.25 million settlement the city paid to former inmate Jamal Hunter, who sued the city after he was beaten and scalded by fellow inmates in 2011 while a deputy looked away. Mayor Michael Hancock subsequently called for a thorough review of the department's policies, while Sheriff Gary Wilson stepped down amid more allegations of excessive force.
Monday's rally, organized by the Fraternal Order of Police, criticized Hancock's administration for allegedly making deputies afraid to do their jobs despite increased aggression by prisoners and not showing them enough public support.
"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the deputies do a fine job," Sgt. Charles Denovellis told the Denver Post. "They're afraid a Monday morning quarterback is going to come back and find the one rule they violated. It's frustrating from a supervisory standpoint."
While deputies tried to stand in front of the sign and stop it from being seen by local news crews, demonstrators shouted over rally speakers and argued with attendees.
"I can't allow police in this community to continue to get away with all of the horrendous acts they get away with on a daily basis," protester David Strano told KCNC.
Watch KCNC's report, as aired on Monday, below.