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November 4, 2021

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Statement from Sheriff Joe Pelle on the sentencing of two former deputies

Boulder County, Colo. - Earlier today, Sheriff Joe Pelle was notified that the Boulder County District Court sentenced the two former deputies involved in the transport of Demetrius Shankling.

Mr. Shankling had been found unconscious in a jail transport van in the early morning hours of September 9, 2018, and subsequently died at a Denver hospital on October 6, 2018. The arrest warrants charged each deputy with manslaughter, a class four felony. Today, at the sentencing, the deputies received the following sentences:

  • Adam C. Lunn – Three years in the Department of Corrections, followed by three years of mandatory parole
  • James E. O'Brien – Six years in the Department of Corrections, followed by three years of mandatory parole

Statement from Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle: “This entire incident is a tragedy to everyone involved, including Mr. Shankling and his family, as well as these former deputies and their families. I’m sure of one thing, this death did not need to occur. I’m also sure these former deputies intended no harm. I am confident we took all the necessary steps for accountability and transparency during this process. We relied on the justice system for a just outcome, and we trust that outcome is the best it can be under a horrible and yet preventable situation. I am deeply saddened for everyone involved.”

For previous information released on this case from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, please refer to:

The associated Boulder County Sheriff’s Office case number is: 18-5352.