February 4, 2019
Public Information Unit, 303-441-1500
UPDATE: Deputies charged in the death of man found unconscious during transport
The veteran deputies have been charged with manslaughter
Boulder, Colo. - Earlier today, Sheriff Joe Pelle was notified that the 20th Judicial District Attorney's Office obtained arrest warrants for the two deputies involved in the transport of Demetrius Shankling, 23. 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. The arrest warrants charged each deputy with manslaughter, a class four felony.
Sheriff Pelle previously requested the Boulder County Investigation Team (BCIT), an independent team of multi-jurisdictional investigators, to investigate Mr. Shankling's death. The BCIT investigative findings were presented to Sheriff Pelle and his staff, as well as the District Attorney and his team.
Upon learning of the District Attorney's criminal analysis of the investigative results and his subsequent charging determination, Sheriff Pelle said, "Mr. Shankling's death is a tragedy to all involved, including Mr. Shankling, his family, and the involved deputies. I'm grateful to the Boulder County Investigation Team, the coroner's office, the district attorney's office, and the sheriff's investigators, who thoroughly and tirelessly examined every aspect of this tragic event. As part of our public safety mission, all deputies are responsible for safeguarding those in our care to the best of our ability and are accountable for our decisions and actions. I appreciate the careful and deliberate analysis of the facts as the Coroner and District Attorney reached their conclusions."
The two involved deputies, James E. O'Brien, 49, and Adam C. Lunn, 36, have been on paid administrative leave since September 9 and will remain on leave pending the internal administrative review into their actions. Information related to the administrative reviews cannot be made available to the public under Colorado's employment laws, as it involves personnel matters.
Deputy O'Brien originally joined the sheriff's office as a deputy in 1998 and has worked in the jail, patrol, and investigations. Deputy O'Brien's most recent assignment was in patrol, assigned to the night shift.
Deputy Lunn joined the sheriff's office as a civilian crew boss in 2009. Deputy Lunn was promoted to deputy in 2011 and spent the majority of his career in the Jail Division. Deputy Lunn's most recent assignment was working in jail operations, assigned to the night shift.
Video footage, including body-worn camera footage, exists as part of the record in this incident; however, as a result of criminal charges being filed, the District Attorney has asked Sheriff Pelle not to release any records related to this investigation until the criminal cases involving both deputies have reached a disposition. Sheriff Pelle will comply with the D.A.'s request; therefore no records, including any photo and video evidence, will be released until the criminal cases are resolved.
The case number associated with this investigation is 18-5352.
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/s/ Cmdr. Mike Wagner
Public Information Officer