A video, shown above, shows Deputy Thomas Ford striking inmate Kyle Askins in the face. But, as District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey wrote in a letter
to Sheriff Elias Diggins, "there are important facts that do not appear on the video."
This investigation revealed that the inmate was making vile comments, racial slurs and threatening taunts toward the deputy sheriffs, particularly to Deputy Ford. Among the words said by Askins that Deputy Ford recalled were: "F--- you. You p----. You P---- M-----. You black b------. I'll f--- you up. I'll kick your ---." Deputy Sheriff Williams Lewis recalled Askins saying: "You f------ n------. Why is this taking so long? F--- you. F--- you. You're just a p----. B----, I will kick your a--."
Deputies Ford and Lewis reported that Askins' comments persisted and that they told him to "knock it off." Eventually, Ford decided to move Askins from a bench to a cell. As he approached Askins, the inmate stood up to confront Ford.
Deputy Ford described the incident this way, according to the Morrissey's letter:
I had no intention of getting into a physical altercation with this guy. So, but when he -- he popped up off the bench. I didn't tell him to get up. I didn't give him an order. He popped up off the bench in an aggressive manner. His body was tense, and his face, and then, based off his previous threats about what he was going to do to me, I felt threatened and I defended myself, and I defended myself with a -- with a strike to the face. ... a strike that we are taught in the Academy to defend ourselves against threats.
The DA notes in his letter that Deputy Ford struck Askins once, and characterized the injury as "slight and temporary." The DA also says that Ford "is not required by Colorado law to wait to be struck first by an inmate before he is legally justified to use reasonable and appropriate physical force."
"For these reasons, my office will not file criminal charges against Deputy Ford," the DA's letter concludes.