Inmate dies at Denver jail; suspected homicide between inmates raises staffing concerns

Posted at 10:43 AM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 00:59:04-04

DENVER – An inmate at the Denver City Jail died Monday morning, and police say they suspect that the inmate was killed by another inmate.

The Denver Police Department is investigating the incident, as the Denver Sheriff Department runs the jail.

Police had been mostly mum about the incident all morning, only saying there was a death investigation involving an inmate.

But they said later Monday morning that the investigation had turned into a homicide probe, and that it surrounded an altercation between two inmates.

That raised concerns about staffing, aired to Denver7 by a member of the Sheriff's Deputy Union that works inside the jail.

"If we're not fully staffed then this is what ultimately occurs," 28 year vet Michael Britton said.

Britton says the jail is at least 100 deputies short, they work on a skeleton crew, amass hundreds of hours of overtime, and even have to shut down parts of the jail that aren't staffed.

"No we can't do our job, we can't respond fast enough," he said.

But the Denver Sheriff said otherwise in a statement to Denver7. 

"The incident that occurred at the Downtown Detention Center this morning remains under investigation and there are limited details that can be shared at this time," Sheriff Patrick Firman said.

But he added that "the facility was appropriately staffed and the housing unit where the incident occurred was below capacity."

"Employees and the inmates who witnessed the incident have been offered wellness assistance and we will continue to support their well-being," Firman said.

"It's a matter of time. Either an officer is gonna get killed or they're gonna take over a pod or an entire floor," Britton said, urging something be done to combat any future deaths.