A Denver sheriff’s sergeant will lose 10 days of pay for dragging a man through a jail walkway by the collar of his shirt.
Sgt. Joshua Perez failed to attempt to de-escalate the situation or communicate with the man before going hands-on, according to a disciplinary letter obtained by The Denver Post through a public records request. Perez’s actions jeopardized his safety, the man’s safety and the safety of nearby deputies, the letter states.
“Given the tactical and control options available to Sgt. Perez, which might have eliminated the need for either the initial lifting of (the man), or eventual dragging of (the man) along the top tier, it cannot be said that Sgt. Perez’s force was the least amount necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement or detention-related function,” Carl McEncroe, civilian review administrator, wrote in the letter.
Deputies asked the man to go to his cell after the man threw a roll of toilet paper at another man who insulted him. The man refused to go to his cell.
Video of the incident shows Lopez arriving at the area where the man was speaking with five other deputies. Lopez did not pause before walking up to the man, grabbing his torso and forcing him up the stairs. When the man fell to the ground, Lopez dragged him by his collar the dozens of feet from the top of the stairs to a cell.
Lopez told investigators that the man “resisted a little bit — but not much” and that he didn’t become dead weight until the top of the stairs, according to the letter.
Perez later told sheriff department leadership that he preferred to drag noncompliant people than to carry them because it reduces the fall risk. He said in hindsight, he wished he had asked other deputies to grab the man by the arm.
Perez joined the department in 1994. Perez will serve his 10-day suspension starting July 20.