If you’re even in a Denver jail, don’t start poking fun at the deputies — let alone their martial arts talents, or you might end up with a new black eye.
This year hasn’t been the most stellar for American law enforcement, so here’s a story in the same vein.
A Denver sheriff’s deputy has been suspended for 90 days over an incident that occurred in April 2013. As shown in security video, Deputy Roberto Roena, a 15 year veteran of the department, instigated a fight with an inmate at the Downtown Detention Center, kicking the inmate after mocking his taekwondo skills.
Roena was not only punished for using excessive force, but also for making inaccurate statements regarding the incident and conduct that “compromised the mission of the department.”
Roena was on court security duty on the night of April 22, 2013, but he stopped by a cell block to talk with other deputies. Inmate John Cardenas was standing in the doorway leading to the cells while the deputies chatted.
When Roena, a taekwondo instructor, was talking about how he performs martial arts to stay in shape, demonstrating a high kick for his buddies. Cardenas, watching the scene, reportedly said “that isn’t a kick” and “you ain’t s**t.”
According to ABC Denver, whose site has the full video:
Deputy Roena approaches Cardenas and raising his hands in a fighting position, throws a few sparring punches in the air and makes a partial side kick toward the inmate standing in the doorway, according to video and the disciplinary letter.
Cardenas makes a couple half-hearted punches in the air, but doesn’t come near hitting the deputy. Roena keeps sparring, throwing punches and kicking high near Cardenas’ head as the inmate backs away.
Eventually they began grappling and Roena gets the inmate in a headlock and takes him to the ground. Several deputies rush up and separate the two men and restrain Cardenas.
In his initial use-of-force report, Roena said Cardenas “squared off on me and raised his hands to a fighting position.” The deputy said he ordered the inmate to step back into the housing unit and thought Cardenas was going to attack him. So Deputy Roena said he responded by “using defensive tactics,” including throwing a side kick to defend himself.