Everything we know — and don’t — about the claim that a Denver police officer violated a protester with a baton

DPD opened an internal investigation 22 days after the alleged incident.
3 min. read
A screen shot of a video captured by Twitter user @benkile_ shows the arrest of Michael Jacobs on July 29, 2020.

A Boulder resident who was tackled and arrested by Denver police in July has accused an officer of using a baton to rupture his anus.

Michael Jacobs, 23, says he was participating in nighttime demonstrations against racism and police violence on July 29 when a Denver Police Department officer sexually violated him while in custody. The department is investigating the claim against the officer, who has not been publicly named.

According to the police report filed by an officer that night, Jacobs had been trying to push down a fence around Veteran's Park when police tried to arrest him. Jacobs "immediately began to violently resist arrest," the report states. The report also states that Jacobs tried to take an officer's pepper-ball gun. The Denver District Attorney's Office charged Jacobs with trying to disarm a cop.

But Jacobs says police invented that charge to help excuse what they did next. He says a group of officers punched him, beat him with a baton and stepped on him.

"And then one of the other officers who was kind of in the back took his baton, lifted it in the air and thrust it with all of his strength into my butt," Jacobs told Denverite.

Jacobs's attorneys say a video circulating online captures the incident. It shows a person running and being tackled by several police officers who then beat and subdue that person. One officer can be seen jabbing his baton toward the person's rear end while they're lying on the ground.

That night, Denver Health nurses examined Jacobs for injuries related to a sexual assault, medical records show. Medical records from a rectal doctor dated two weeks later show Jacobs was diagnosed with a rectal and anal hemorrhage as well as hemorrhoids.

The Denver Police Department refused to comment on specifics, citing an open internal investigation that might be tainted by making information public.

According to medical records, DPD's Major Crimes Unit opened an investigation into the sexual assault allegation on July 30. Denver Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell, who watchdogs DPD's internal investigations, said a criminal allegation against a police officer should automatically trigger an investigation by the DPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.

But the sexual assault case never got off the ground. DPD spokesman Doug Schepman said via email that the victim "did not provide a statement or make an accusation to DPD, therefore, there was no information for the department to act upon." Jacobs said he was too traumatized to follow through on an official police report that required him to work with police officers who belonged to the same force that beat him up.

The sexual assault case -- which is separate from DPD's internal investigation -- is still open but inactive "pending additional information/evidence," Schepman stated. DPD would not provide documents related to that case.

DPD opened an investigation into its own actions 22 days after Jacobs's arrest -- not because of the allegation, Schepman said, but because Jacobs's lawyers contacted the department and asked them to preserve evidence.

Jacobs's lawyers are focused primarily on beating the criminal charges against their client, attorney Matthew Greife said. Then they'll consider filing a civil lawsuit.

"In our opinion it's a false arrest, it is excessive force," Greife said. "And quite frankly, this was a sexual assault. This was penetration with a foreign object."

Jacobs goes to court on Sept. 28 for the charge of attempting to disarm a police officer.

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