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Dad says he heard Denver police beating over phone

August 18, 2010

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DENVER—The father of the man who says he was beaten by Denver police -- an incident that has prompted an FBI investigation -- said Wednesday that he heard the beating over an open cell phone line.

A police video shows Michael DeHerrera talking on his cell phone as a friend, 25-year-old Shawn Johnson, was being arrested in Denver last year. DeHerrera, 24, said he called his father, a veteran sheriff's officer, in distress.

The father, Anthony DeHerrera, told CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday that he heard someone say: "We have to get rid of the phone, they're recording us." He said he heard the phone drop, some obscenities and then a thud.

The video shows an officer slamming Michael DeHerrera to the ground, but then the camera moves back.

Two officers were disciplined but the city's independent law enforcement monitor released a report Monday saying they should have been fired. Richard Rosenthal's report said he believes the video shows a different story from the officers' accounts.

Rosenthal is at odds with Denver Manager of Safety Ron Perea, who said the video doesn't show the whole story and stands by his decision on disciplining the officers.

The FBI has agreed to investigate the incident at Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's request.

Rosenthal is investigating a complaint about another incident caught on police video. He said Wednesday that he is reviewing allegations by Mark Ashford who said he was beaten by two Denver police officers March 16 after making comments about a traffic stop.

Ashford, who was walking his dogs, said he told a driver stopped by police that he would testify in the driver's behalf.

On a video released this week to the media, it looks like Ashford is trying to take a photo with a cell phone and that's when the officers took hold of him. The 32-year-old started to struggle as officers put his hands behind his back and one officer can be seen hitting him.

The Denver Police Department declined to comment on Ashford's complaint because the incident is under review.

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Includes information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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