Jury Finds Deputies Used Excessive Force in 2010 Death of Homeless Man

Marvin Booker
Marvin Booker, a homeless Denver street preacher. Booker died after deputies shocked him with a Taser after he was handcuffed, put him in a sleeper hold and lay on top of him.Denver Department of Safety via AP, file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
/ Source: Associated Press

A federal court jury on Tuesday found five Denver sheriff's deputies used excessive force against a homeless street preacher who died in 2010. The jury awarded the family of Marvin Booker $4.6 million in damages. Booker, 56, died after deputies shocked him with a Taser while he was handcuffed, put him in a sleeper hold and lay on top of him. The Booker family was in tears after the verdict was announced. "We finally got justice for my brother," the Rev. Calvin Booker said.

A lawyer representing the city of Denver, Thomas Rice, told jurors that the deputies' actions were in line with the sheriff department's policies for handling a combative inmate. Booker, who was arrested on an outstanding warrant for drug possession, was cursing and refusing to follow orders, according to the deputies' account. He was restrained by deputies who got on top of him, placed him in a sleeper hold, handcuffed him and shocked him with a stun gun.

Denver's medical examiner said Booker died of cardiorespiratory arrest during restraint, and ruled his death a homicide. The report listed other factors in his death, including emphysema, an enlarged heart and recent cocaine use. Prosecutors declined to charge the deputies. Sheriff's department officials never disciplined them, saying it was reasonable for the deputies to believe he could harm someone and that force was necessary to restrain him.


— The Associated Press