Denver deputy suspended for breaking inmates wrist with nunchucks

A Denver sheriff deputy broke a man’s wrist with nunchucks during a fight while the man was being admitted to the downtown jail, Denver Department of Public Safety documents show.

Deputy Daniel Rodriguez will serve a three-day suspension for using excessive force on the man, who was intoxicated and fighting with deputies. Another seven days of suspension will be held in abeyance, meaning Rodriguez will serve those days if he breaks department policy again in the next year.

The April 25, 2021, incident prompted the Denver Sheriff Department to change its policy and ban deputies from carrying and using nunchucks, which the department calls OPNs, short for Orcutt Police Nunchaku. The change went into effect Oct. 25, 2021, department spokeswoman Daria Serna said.

Rodriguez used the nunchucks on the inmate — identified by the initials SP in the disciplinary letter — as the man was being admitted to the jail.

The man was transported from a van to an isolation cell, where he began to fight and resist the deputies’ attempt to remove his handcuffs and leg shackles, the letter states. Multiple deputies attempted to restrain the man, who was high on several substances and not responding to communication, it says.

Rodriguez used his nunchucks on the man’s right arm, and another deputy used his on both of the man’s feet.

Rodriguez told internal affairs investigators that the man was trying to bite him and would not stop fighting and kicking at deputies, according to his disciplinary letter. He said he considered hitting the man or using pepper spray, but the tight space inside the cell would have made that dangerous. He said he noticed the man didn’t seem to be responding to pain after using the nunchucks for about 30 seconds.

The man was transported to Denver Health, where he was treated for a damaged artery and underwent emergency surgery for the broken arm. He tested positive for a variety of drugs.

Rodriguez, who joined the department in 2019, said he understood that the man was in an altered state due to drugs and likely didn’t understand what he was doing when he was fighting deputies.

“When someone’s in an altered state like that, they’re not being rational,” he told internal affairs investigators, according to the letter. “They don’t even know what they’re doing … and it’s unfortunate that he’s hurt. It’s not my intentions, not anyone’s intention. However, I mean, given the substances he was on, I had to apply those OPNs for my own safety.”

Rodriguez should have tried other methods to control the man instead of applying increasing pressure with the nunchucks — especially since the man didn’t appear to respond to pain, wrote Carl McEncroe, civilian review administrator with the Department of Pubilc Safety. Rodriguez was justified in using force to control the man but should have used less forceful tactics, McEncroe wrote.

“Deputy Rodriguez failed to treat SP in the way in which he would wish to be treated, particularly in that he recognized SP’s altered state yet, despite that, applied significant pressure to OPNs such that SP’s arm was broken,” McEncroe wrote.

Sign up to get crime news sent straight to your inbox each day.

Source: Read Full Article