Two Boulder deputies charged with manslaughter in transport van death no longer with department

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-25 18:40:58-04

BOULDER, Colo. – The two Boulder County sheriff’s deputies charged with manslaughter after a 23-year-old man died after he was transported to an addiction treatment center are no longer with the sheriff’s office.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that James O’Brien and Adam Lunn were no longer employed as of Monday. The sheriff’s office added that the internal investigation into their alleged actions is complete but that it could not release more information because the investigation involves a personnel matter.

O’Brien, 49, and Lunn, 36, were charged with one count of manslaughter, a class 4 felony, in early February in relation to the death of Demetrius Shankling.

The two former deputies were tasked with taking Shankling to Boulder’s Addiction Recovery center on Sept. 9, 2018. Shakling had a blood alcohol level of .352, according to an arrest affidavit, and needed to detox.

But the deputies allegedly handcuffed him and put him face-down inside the transport van. After a 16-minute van ride to the recovery center, Shankling was found unresponsive.

He never would regain consciousness and was pronounced dead on Oct. 6.

Prosecutors said an autopsy showed Shankling died from “positional asphyxia” from his confinement within the van, meaning he was unable to breathe due to how his body was positioned. The forensic examiner determined the manner of death to be homicide, since he was put in that position by the two deputies.

Both former deputies were placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 9 and were on leave until Monday, though the sheriff’s office did not say if they were fired or resigned.

Court records show both men have arraignments on their charges scheduled for May 10. Both posted $2,500 personal recognizance bonds after their arrests.