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Jail Deputies Restrain a Man and Then Wach As He Chokes To Death on His Own Vomit (Video)

Screen shot from video.
Screen shot from video.

By The Colorado Independent
New details about Michael Lee Marshall’s final minutes of consciousness can be discerned from videotapes that, after a hunger strike and a lawsuit, the city of Denver released earlier today.

The tapes unfold in three parts. They were shot from two different overhead cameras in Denver’s jail. They’re without audio — 44 minutes of silence. Here’s what happened between 6:28 and 7:12 p.m. on Nov. 11th in the jail’s 4th floor “secure sallyport.”


Marshall walked down the hall shirtless, his laundry in hand. He was 50 years old, 112 lbs. and homeless, a paranoid schizophrenic who had been arrested a few days earlier on a trespassing charge at a Colfax Avenue motel where he sometimes stayed. He was being held on a $100 bond.

After Marshall tried putting his laundry on a shelf and then on a cart in the hall, some papers fell off the cart onto the floor. He walked down the hall, away from the camera. A sheriff’s deputy walked by the fallen papers and toward Marshall. Marshall headed back toward the camera, dragging on the floor what looks like a blanket. Out of it fell several small, unidentifiable items, within full sight of the deputy.

Marshall paced back and forth, stopped to pick something up, then paced more. He kept dragging his blanket and then dropped what looks like a shirt. He sat on a bench, and several more small items fell out of the blanket he was clutching. He bent down to gather them from the floor.

A tall, stocky sheriff’s deputy stepped into the frame and stood watching Marshall, who collected his belongings and held them tightly to his chest.

A second deputy walked by, and a third approached so that two deputies were standing on each side of where Marshall was seated. Both were notably larger than he And both stood for a while, holding their belts, watching him.

Marshall adjusted his sagging pants, then stood up, blanket in hand and tried walking between one of the deputies and the wall in an attempt to get past him.

The deputy reached out, pinned Marshall to the cement block, then swung him back toward the bench. Two other deputies approached and swung Marshall to the floor where the three officers seemed easily to restrain him. A fourth officer walked up and stood over the others as they held Marshall to the floor — apparently without much physical effort — for about four minutes.

A view of Marshall himself is hidden from the camera until the deputies dragged him a bit more into the frame. There’s a quick glimpse of his leg, unmoving. Several deputies leaned and stood over him for several minutes. At this point, it’s unclear from the video if they were restraining him, giving him medical care, or both. During this time, a few lights seem to have flashed out of the camera’s view. A few minutes later, Marshall’s foot moves and a deputy leans in to hold it still.

At one point, 13 minutes into the video, at least five uniformed officers and three staffers who appear to be medical personnel were leaning over Marshall. The medics then stepped away, leaving five deputies still restraining Marshall on the floor. They appear to have used some force because the deputy harnessing Marshall’s foot — or feet — kept wiping sweat from his brow.

Seventeen minutes into the video, a deputy approached from down the hall with what looks like the cloth “spit hood” that, according to the autopsy, was placed over Marshall’s mouth. About eighteen minutes in, the crew of deputies lifted Marshall into a restraining chair and out of view of the first camera.

The second camera shows that deputies spent about three minutes strapping Marshall’s seemingly limp shoulders and arms into the chair while as many as ten uniformed officers surrounded him. Marshall sat lifeless in the chair for about five minutes while the deputies, for the most part, stood around and watched.

Finally, a deputy shook Marshall’s chest in what looked like an attempt to wake him. A medic apparently found Marshall had no pulse. Deputies started unstrapping Marshall from the chair — slowly at first and then faster, as if for the first time deeming it a medical emergency.

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