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DeHerrera Beating Case Overturned: Denver City Attorney 'Shocked,' 'Disappointed'

DENVER (CBS4) - The Denver City Attorney's office says it is "shocked" and "disappointed" with a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that allows reinstatement of two fired Denver Police officers to their jobs.

Police Brutality Video Allegations
Mayor John Hickenlooper asked the FBI to investigate a case that divided a top law enforcement official and an independent watchdog over whether Denver officers caught on video aggressively subduing a man should be fired. Michael DeHerrera said in a lawsuit against officers and the police department that he was slammed to the ground and repeatedly beaten after screaming for help as his companion was forced to the ground by police. (credit: CBS)

The ruling came on Thursday, 10 years to the day since the incident which was captured by a police surveillance camera.

The video showed 23-year-old Michael DeHerrera standing on a curb outside a nightclub where he was speaking to his father on a cellphone. Officer Devin Sparks suddenly wrestles him to ground outside a club. Sparks is seen striking DeHerrera repeatedly.

Michael DeHerrera
Michael DeHerrera (credit: Denver Police Department)

The young man ended up in a hospital Sparks and Oofficer Randy Murr were eventually dismissed from the department..

Anthony DeHerrera, Michael's father, told CBS4's Rick Sallinger by phone he's "furious."

"I totally feel like I've been punched in the gut again," he said from Pueblo, where he lives.

There was community outrage when the two officers were at first only given a three days suspension without pay. When the video of the incident was made public the manager of safety was pressured to resign. After he stepped down, another manager of safety came in and fired the two policemen.

Now the Court of Appeals has given the officers their jobs back, writing that the city had not followed proper procedures because a punishment can't be increased after it is handed down. The two appeals court judges added "We are acutely aware that this result means that the officers essentially escape the consequences of their conduct."

This case may not be over yet. The Denver City Attorney's office said it is weighing whether to ask for a review of the decision by the full Court of Appeals or to ask the Colorado
Supreme Court to hear the case.

Sean Olson, the attorney for the police officers, issued a statement saying, "We are pleased that the court recognized what we have been saying since this case began -- that the law prohibits what the City did in this case. Both officers now look forward to this matter coming to a final resolution, and being able to put this behind them."

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