Denver deputy accused of telling mentally ill inmate to ‘just die’ has suspension overturned
DENVER – A Denver sheriff’s deputy suspended for allegedly telling a mentally ill inmate on suicide watch to “just die” had his suspension overturned Friday by the Denver Career Service Board.
The mentally ill inmate was being housed in a special suicide cell that is designed to prevent suicide.
Denver Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Bosveld had been suspended for 10 days for neglect of duty and failure to observe written departmental or agency regulations. He served his suspension beginning Sept. 21.
THE ORIGINAL INCIDENT THAT LED TO SUSPENSION
The discipline letter issued in September states a Denver Health jail nurse heard Bosveld tell the inmate on suicide watch to “just die.” The incident happened at the Downtown Denver Detention Center.
The nurse, Tamatha Anding, then wrote an email to her supervisors voicing concerns about his behavior. The subject line of the email said, “Need Direction Please.”
The nurse said after she heard Bosveld make the inappropriate comment he giggled and then turned to her and said, “that wasn’t very professional was it?”
When asked what the nurse thought of Bosveld’s comments she said, “I figured that probably wasn’t the safest thing to say to any of our suicidal patients. If they’re in the floor flush, there’s a reason and that we’re monitoring them closely.”
During Bosveld’s interview with the Internal Affairs Bureau, he said this comment “isn’t my personality. I wouldn’t have said that to the inmate.”
The letter states, “It is also more likely than not that Nurse TA’s version of events is more credible than that of Deputy Bosveld. Nurse TA via email, reported this incident to her supervisor three days after it occurred, after having witnessed another act of misconduct by Deputy Bosveld.”
Bosveld did admit to another incident he self-reported where he told an inmate, who was also in the medical unit, “I’d rather go f*** your mother.”
Deputy Bosveld’s behavior goes against new crisis intervention training all deputies are now required to go through.
The five-day, forty-hour course teaches deputies through role playing how to better deal with the mentally ill and deescalate situations without using force.
HEARING OFFICER OVERTURNS SUSPENSION
Career Service Hearing Officer Valerie McNaughton wrote in the appeal decision that there was “not enough evidence to prove or disprove whether this allegation occurred,” citing a report on the video of the alleged incident from a sheriff’s office investigator that found the deputy mentioned the comment off-hand, and not directly to the inmate.
She also decided that since Anding didn’t report the incident immediately that meant she did not believe Bosveld told the inmate to die either.
Denver Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell said the hearing officer’s decision was “troubling” in a statement to Denver7:
“The Director of Safety was right to suspend this deputy. There is a burgeoning mental health crisis in our jails, and the current reforms of the Sheriff Department are intended to eliminate the mistreatment of vulnerable individuals,” he said. “The hearing officer’s decision is very troubling, and hinders those reforms.”
Daelene Mizx, a spokesperson with the Department of Safety, said the city plans to appeal the hearing officer’s decision.
“It is the Department of Safety’s view that applicable Denver Sheriff Department rules and regulation related to the facts and circumstances of this specific matter support the suspension given to Deputy Bosveld,” she said in a statement to Denver7. “As such, the Department has appealed the hearing officer’s decision to overturn the suspension to the Career Service Board.”