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Why a Report on Racially Motivated LoDo Beatings Is Being Withheld From the Public

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Lately, it’s been tough to get solid information about controversial criminal cases that contain allegations of law-enforcement officials acting inappropriately. In just one recent high-profile case, for instance, a videotape and other information surrounding the beating death of inmate Marvin Booker at the new Denver jail were slow to emerge.

Now, Denver Judge Sheila Rappaport is standing in the way of public access to a report issued by a grand jury that investigated a spate of racially motivated beatings in LoDo, as well as the conduct of the lead Denver police detective on the case. That’s according to The Denver Post and CBS4, which report that detective Paul Baca won’t face any charges, although there were allegations he misrepresented or fabricated evidence. Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, who is serving as a special prosecutor in the case, is expected to appeal the judge’s ruling.

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The grand jury investigated Baca after evidence surfaced that he exaggerated injuries, which could have led to criminal charges against him. But it’s unclear what the grand jury intended: Although it requested its report be made public, the document remains under wraps. That leaves Harvey Steinberg, a Denver defense attorney, commenting on the odd nature of the case. He is not familiar with the report, but he speculates that “something triggered the passions of that grand jury,” making the report not releasable in the judge’s mind. A spokesman for Denver police has declined to comment because a grand jury is “a secret proceeding” and “we don’t comment on grand jury proceedings by law.”

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