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Officer seen shoving bar patron down stairs has suspension overturned; appeal vowed

A suspended Denver police officer who was caught on video shoving a bar patron against a flight of stairs had his 30-day suspension overturned by a Civil Service Commission hearing officer, it was announced Tuesday.

The Department of Public Safety has said it will appeal the reversal.

The victim, 30-year-old Brandon Schreiber who had to testify at the civil service hearing, was surprised officer Choice Johnson was appealing his suspension.

According to police records, Johnson has 18 other accusations of excessive force against him, but this was the first time he was suspended. The incident was caught on a city halo camera outside 1 Up Bar at 1925 Blake St.

In a 13-page ruling, hearing officer Terry Tomsick, who overturned the firing of Denver police officer James Medina for excessive force last month, wrote the Department of Public Safety “failed to present sufficient evidence to create a reasonable inference of the correctness of the sustained Rule violation RR-306. … The decision of the Manager of Safety, acting through its Deputy Manager of Safety Jess Vigil, sustaining a Rule violation RR-306, contrary to the overwhelming weight of evidence, was clearly erroneous.”

“Based on the evidence and the policies and procedures violated, the 30-day suspension issued to officer Johnson was appropriate,” Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Daelene Mix said.

“We disagree with the hearing officer’s interpretation of the policy and legal authority involved and will ask the city attorney’s office to appeal the decision to the full Civil Service Commission.”

Siddartha Rathod, Schriber’s attorney, told FOX31 Denver after the appeal hearing that giving Johnson back pay for a suspension he already has served would be an insult to Denver taxpayers.

“Anybody who looks at this video recognizes that officer Johnson’s conduct was outrageous. It was out of line, it was excessive, it was brutal, and then charging Brandon was absolutely ridiculous,” Rathod said.

Schriber was charged with interference and resisting.

The Department of Public Safety has 15 days to appeal to the full five-member Civil Service Commission.

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