Denver councilors no-show at safety meeting on inmate death

Michael Marshall died in the city's jail in 2015
Posted at 8:36 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 22:55:49-04

DENVER -- A newly released report from Denver's watchdog found the city mishandled an inmate death investigation, but on the day city council members were supposed to hear about the mistakes, half of them didn't show up.

Denver's safety committee invited independent monitor Nick Mitchell to attend Thursday's meeting to present his findings about how the city failed in inmate Michael Marshall's death.

Marshall died at the hands of deputies in 2015, and the case cost taxpayers nearly $5 million to settle.

Mitchell came armed with evidence, facts, charts and graphics. But city council members Stacie Gilmore, Debbie Ortega, and Rafael Espinoza were no-shows.

Those who did show up for the meeting, council members Robin Kniech, Paul Kashmann, and Paul Lopez, went off on their colleagues.

"We don't even have quorum for an actionable item today yet we have a report that is a very important report," city councilman Paul Lopez said during the meeting.

"The fact that there are three of us here makes it harder for us to have a conversation about how we speak with one voice," councilwoman at-large Robin Kniech also said during the committee hearing.

"This room should be packed and I'm quite disappointed that it's not. As a matter of fact, this table should be packed and I'm disappointed that it isn’t," Lopez added.

Disappointed and frustrated given the gravity of the findings which showed none of the deputies, captains or sergeants involved in Marshall's death had their discipline upheld.

"This was unacceptable at every single level. Every single (one)," Kniech said at the meeting.

"Amen sister," Lopez added.

"No one wants the taxpayers to spend a dime on these settlements. The important thing is a man lost his life and we don't want that happening again," chair of the safety committee, Councilman Paul Kashmann, said in an interview with Denver7.

The council members who were at Thursday's meeting said they want the mayor's office to step in and say only the mayor can do anything meaningful at this point.

"There is one branch of government that is in control here. One. And that branch of government needs to act," Kniech said.

"We aren't going to put him in a head lock or an arm bar, but we will continue to raise the questions," Kashmann said.

Denver7 reached out the three council members who weren't at the meeting. One said they had a family matter, another said they were out of town, and the other had an important meeting to prepare for.

The safety committee chairman said he doesn't think it's a big deal, and believes the council members had valid reasons for missing the meeting.

"I've urged my colleagues to watch the video and to forward any questions and concerns. They've all gotten copies of the independent monitor's report," he said.