The Denver Sheriff’s Department immediately pulled a training video for jail guards after a local television station revealed the tape ignored the department’s own responsibility for the death of an inmate eight years ago.
The training video was part of a $7 million lawsuit settlement reached after 24-year-old Emily Rice bled to death in police custody from internal injuries sustained in a car crash.
Rice was booked on a DUI charge related to the crash, but officers and medical personal overlooked her injuries and ignored her pleas for help.
Four deputies were disciplined in the case after an investigation, according to Denver’s 7News, for falsifying reports “to cover up their failure to make rounds on the night of Emily’s death.”
Two of the deputies were suspended.
The training video was included as part of the settlement deal to help prevent future incidences from occurring, the station reported. But the video that was produced places all of the blame for Rice’s death on medical personnel from Denver Health Medical Center and on the victim herself.
The narrator highlights Rice’s drinking on the night of the car crash and faults nurses and doctors for not taking x-rays. It seems to celebrate the actions of deputies, including one who was singled out for discovering that Rice wasn’t breathing properly and was near death.
That same officer, Deputy Julie Kirkbride, was one of two deputies suspended for their actions in the case, according to 7News, but her suspension is not mentioned in the video. In fact, none of the department’s own violations were mentioned at all.
Rice’s parents, who assumed the video was being used to prevent another negligent death at the jail, are outraged that the department hasn’t taken any responsibility for their daughter’s death, despite the huge settlement.
The independent monitor investigating the case found such negligence on the part of the guards that it listed a series of protocols officers must follow with inmates and required their adoption as part of the settlement. They are known as “Emily’s Protocols.”
“That’s not a training video, that’s a whitewash,” father Roy Rice told 7News. “The guards in the Denver Sheriff’s Department were every bit as responsible for Emily’s death as were the people in Denver Health.”
The family’s attorney said the video is further evidence of the department’s cultural instinct “to cover up and deny any wrongdoing.”
“When I saw the video that the city produced regarding Emily’s case, I was enraged,” attorney Darold Killmer told the station. “This is a real indication of the culture of cover-up and denial of responsibility that has been at the jail for the last generation really.”
Stephanie O’Malley, Denver’s director of safety, told the station that she would evaluate the video’s effectiveness. The station reported that within an hour of interviewing O’Malley, the video was removed from the department’s computer system and is no longer available for viewing by deputies.
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