Denver officer fired after videotaped struggle with woman
DENVER — Denver police have fired an officer accused of using inappropriate force in a holding cell against a woman who had been arrested on charges of assaulting an officer.
A video of the incident appears to show Officer James Medina struggling with Seryina Trujillo in the cell and then putting his knee on her neck until she goes limp and collapses onto the floor, KCNC-TV in Denver reported Tuesday.
Police administrators said Medina didn’t seek medical attention for Trujillo, didn’t seek the help of other officers to subdue her, and didn’t report the use of force. Another officer told a supervisor about the incident four days after it happened, KCNC reported.
Medina, a 16-year veteran, has appealed the firing, said his attorney, Donald Sisson. Sisson said Medina’s actions were reasonable and that Trujillo had been scratching and biting the officer.
Sisson said Medina didn’t file a use of force report because he didn’t think Trujillo was injured.
The incident occurred July 10. Trujillo had been arrested for allegedly kicking Medina in the face and spitting on another officer while police were taking her boyfriend into custody.
Medina asked Trujillo to surrender her shoes and belt inside the holding cell, but she resisted. In an ensuing struggle, Medina can be heard repeatedly telling her not to bite him.
According to the department, Medina placed his right knee against Trujillo’s neck. When he got off, she went limp and appeared to lose consciousness for several seconds.
“Clearly his actions taken as a whole are not in line with the values of the police department,” said Cmdr. Matt Murray. “We have repeatedly talked about the fact there is a culture of change within the Denver Police Department demanded by the community and this is a part of it.”
Sgt. Glenn Mahr, a member of the department’s tactics review board, suggested after reviewing the tape that Medina used appropriate force because Trujillo displayed “active aggression” toward him. But Mahr faulted Medina for not seeking assistance from other officers.
Information from: KCNC-TV, http://www.cbsdenver.com
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