Childs, Lobato, And Newmaker Cases Criss-Cross In Denver
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 21, 2005
DENVER, COLORADO--Two separate cases involving Denver Police and people with disabilities made headlines last week.
On Monday, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman recommended that Officer Ranjan Ford Jr. be suspended 30 days without pay over the shooting death of Frank Lobato.
Lobato, 63, who was described as having "very limited mobility" and was using medication for an unnamed mental disability, sat in his own bed last July 11 as Officer Ford entered his second-story bedroom window looking for Lobato's nephew. Ford shot Lobato in the chest when Lobato reached for what the officer thought was a weapon. It turned out to be a can of soda pop.
A grand jury later found no reason to indict Officer Ford for any crime related to Lobato's death. Based on the grand jury's findings, District Attorney Bill Ritter decided not to pursue criminal charges against Ford.
Denver Manager of Safety Al LaCabe has until the end of the month to act on the recommendation by Chief Whitman and three internal review boards. One of those boards called for a simple written reprimand.
Also on Monday, Officer James Turney returned to work with the Denver Police Department -- in a desk job -- after being off work for more than a year.
Last April, LaCabe gave Turney a 10-month suspension without pay over the shooting death of 15-year-old Paul Childs. A civil service commission hearing officer in January lifted the suspension, saying that Turney had violated no policies when he killed Childs. The city was ordered to give Turney his back pay and to put him back to work.
Chief Whitman, who is responsible for all police assignments, has placed Turney in the department's technology and support division.
Turney shot Childs in the front doorway of Childs' home on July 5, 2003. The teen, who had mental disabilities and epilepsy, failed to follow Turney's instructions to drop a knife he was carrying next to his own chest.
"He shouldn't have a job, period," Childs' mother, Helen, told the Rocky Mountain News on Tuesday. "He should be in jail where he belongs."
"I'm glad he's not on the streets because he would do it again," she said.
In a related story, the Rocky Mountain News reported that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is getting ready to choose the city's first independent monitor who will be responsible for reviewing internal police investigations.
The job was created in response to community outrage over Paul Childs' death and a lawsuit threatened by the boy's family.
One of the candidates for the job is Amos Martinez, a program director for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Martinez investigated the 2000 death of Candace Newmaker, a 10-year-old girl with mental disabilities who died of suffocation during a "rebirthing" therapy session.
"Chief urges suspension in shooting" (Denver Post)
"The Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"Decision at hand on Denver's independent police monitor" (Rocky Mountain News)
"Candace Newmaker: Death Through 'Rebirthing' Therapy" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)