A Denver sheriff’s deputy, accused of telling a suicidal inmate to “just die,” just got his suspension reversed

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A cell block or “pod” at the Douglas County jail. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A Denver Health nurse reported that Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Bosveld told a suicidal inmate to "just die." Last week, a review board reversed the city's punishment of Bosveld.

The accusation:

Registered nurse Tamatha Anding said she was walking through the psychiatric housing corridor of a jail facility when she heard something. She shortly afterward encountered Bosveld, according to a hearing document. Bosveld "kind of starts giggling," and commented, "That wasn't very professional, was it?" as Anding recalled to an investigator.

Anding reportedly didn't know what the deputy was talking about. The deputy explained that an inmate had just asked him "what he should do," and the deputy said that he had replied, "Just die," according to Anding's statements.

Bosveld, meanwhile, told an investigator it was "highly unlikely," he would have said something like that. He admitted two other allegations – that he had shared confidential sentencing information about an inmate with another inmate, and that he had "snapped" and said something crude to an inmate who had been "harassing" him, the document states.

A civilian administrator reviewed the investigation and pared it down to only the alleged "just die" comment, as they all had to do with the same alleged types of misconduct: failure to be courteous to inmates and neglect in caring for mentally ill inmates. The punishment was 10 days of suspension without pay.

Why it was overturned:

Bosveld appealed the case to Denver's Career Service Board, a panel of five people appointed by the mayor, where he succeeded last week in getting the decision overturned due to a perceived lack of evidence.

The decision letter from the board notes that the nurse, Anding, never actually heard the alleged comments, although she reported she heard something. The letter includes a review of video evidence that finds that the nurse may not have been close enough to hear any exchange between the deputy and the inmate. It also states that there's no sign in the footage that Bosveld had an interaction with the inmate in question, who reportedly was naked and talking to himself.

"When it is visible, Appellant’s face is passive and his mouth is closed as he walks steadily down the hall," according to the document, which is signed by hearing officer Valerie McNaughton.

The videos do show the deputy speaking to Anding shortly afterward, getting no response, the letter states. She did not check in on the inmates afterward, according to the document.

The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the sheriff's department, will appeal the decision, hoping to keep the punishment in place, according to spokeswoman Daelene Mix.

Bosveld had been suspended without pay. Mix wasn't sure whether he would get that money back or whether the department will wait for a final decision on the appeal.

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