Denver sheriff sergeant suspended for jail incident that sent an inmate and three deputies to hospital

Three deputies and a jail inmate were injured in an incident that Denver public safety officials say could have been avoided had the supervising sergeant planned ahead.

The sergeant, Darryn Brown, will serve a 14-day suspension for failing to create a plan for moving an inmate who had been acting disruptive, according to a Denver Public Safety Department disciplinary letter obtained by The Denver Post through a records request.

“Due to Sergeant Brown’s failure to take the time to create a Planned Course of Action, he created significant risk, both to deputies and to inmates, not only to (the inmate), but also to his seven cellmates who had been present in the cell at the outset of the initial effort to relocate (the inmate),” the letter states. “While it is not certain that a Planned Course of Action would have otherwise avoided this incident and resulting injuries, at a minimum it could have minimized the likelihood of a chaotic event.”

Instead, dozens of deputies flooded into a cell and used pepper spray, Tasers and punches to remove the inmate, whose head had to be bandaged while he laid on the cell floor.

Brown decided to move the inmate, Howard Putzier, because Putzier was being disruptive and yelling at staff while being locked in the cell he shared with seven others. Putzier had no previous disciplinary issues at the jail and when he was told he was going to be moved, Putzier appeared to comply by putting on his socks and shoes, according to the letter.

That’s why Brown didn’t create a formal plan for moving Putzier to another cell, he told investigators. When three deputies approach Putzier in the cell, he stood and the deputies tried to restrain him, video of the incident shows. Several more deputies flooded the cell and piled onto Putzier in a struggle that lasted for more than a minute.

One deputy had to be dragged away from the fight by a colleague, and Brown told investigators that the incident “almost killed” another deputy. Other deputies suffered minor injuries.

“In total, as a result of this incident and the use of force situation that ensued, an approximated 20-30 deputies and sergeants were pulled from their posts and/or eventually responded to the incident, along with approximately 7 members of medical staff,” the letter states.

Putzier pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree assault in connection to the case, according to the letter.

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