Police Beating Caught on Tape: Denver Men Want Officers Fired

Police watchdog says officers should be fired after beating of two men.

ByABC News via logo
August 16, 2010, 7:16 AM

Aug. 16, 2010— -- A pair of Denver friends have settled a lawsuit against the city after a controversial police beating that was caught on tape.

Beating victim Michael DeHerrera, 24, said he hopes the settlement will set the framework for the firing of the two Denver officers who threw him to the ground and beat him unconscious.

"It wasn't about money," DeHerrera told "Good Morning America," sitting next to his parents. "It was about making a point."

The April 2009 beating started when the two were kicked out of a Denver nightclub after DeHerrera's friend, Shawn Johnson, 25, used the ladies restroom and then got into a scuffle with the club's bouncer.

As Johnson was being arrested and roughed up by police, DeHerrera used his cell phone to call his father, a sheriff's deputy, for advice.

"I didn't know what to do. Because I'm not going to get involved with police," DeHerrera said. "I was frantic. I was yelling into the phone, 'They're beating up Shawn, they're beating up Shawn.'"

But when police officer Devin Sparks saw DeHerrera on the phone, he grabbed him and slammed him on the ground, repeatedly striking him with a metal club.

DeHerrera said he blacked out and doesn't remember anything until he woke up in the hospital with bruises, stitches and broken teeth.

DeHerrera's father, Pueblo County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony DeHerrera, said he heard his son yelling about Johnson being beaten and then heard the phone drop and a string of obscenities, along with what sounded like his son being hit.

"The last thing we heard was, 'We've got to get rid of the phone, they're recording us,'" Anthony DeHerrera said.

Both Sparks and officer Randy Murr declined to comment.

The incident was also caught on tape by Denver's H.A.L.O. camera system, a network of surveillance cameras meant to deter and capture crime.

When DeHerrera's parents found him in the hospital after a round of phone calls ended with Denver police telling them there was no reason to come down, they were floored.

"Nothing could prepare us for what we saw," Denise DeHerrera said, recalling her son's swollen "lopsided" head and numerous stitches. "He was basically covered from head to toe in bruises."