On the steps of the downtown Denver jail, family and community members joined together Saturday to mourn and reminisce about an inmate who was hospitalized and later died following an incident at the jail.
There are few details about that incident.
Michael Marshall, 50, was removed from life support Friday, while surrounded by his family, said the family's lawyer, Mari Newman.
Marshall was arrested Nov. 5 for trespassing and disturbing the peace, according to court records.
Marshall was involved in an incident around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 in a sally port outside the jail pod where he was housed. Medical staff responded, and Marshall was taken by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center in critical condition.
Denver's KCNC-Channel 4 reported that Marshall had been subdued and restrained by deputies.
Following the announcement of Marshall's death, strangers and those who best knew Marshall gathered in front of the Denver Van Cise Simonet Detention Center bearing signs and photos and delivering impassioned speeches that centered on one question: What happened in the jail that day?
"Unfortunately, Denver has blocked all of our efforts to learn what happened to Michael Marshall at the Denver jail," said Newman, who also represented Marvin Booker in an excessive-force case involving the Denver Sheriff Department that left Booker dead — a case she compared to Marshall's.
"Denver has refused to allow the Marshall family to view the video of the events leading to Michael's death. Denver has also refused to disclose the identities of other detainees who witnessed the events. Denver's lack of transparency leaves us to fear the worst."
The sheriff's department said the video would be released once investigations have been completed.
"If the city is unwilling to come clean, we will have to litigate to get that information," Newman said. "If Denver's got nothing to hide, then show it."
Additionally, Newman said an independent investigator must be appointed in handling the incident.
"When the city investigates itself, the truth does not come out," she said.
Natalia Marshall, Michael's niece, said her uncle suffered from schizophrenia and was a homeless man who should not have been in jail in the first place.
"He wasn't violent," Natalia said. "He was a man dedicated to his family, his faith. He had a personality outside of this world. You couldn't hold him in, though. He chose to be on the streets, but he did have a loving family."
Kisha McFarland wrestles with sadness and anger over the loss of her uncle.
"I wish they had other ways to deal with people with mental illness," she said. "He should have been receiving help."
In a statement, a sheriff's spokesman said: "Our sincere condolences are with the Marshall family at this difficult time. We met with the family yesterday and are committed to a thorough investigation, and transparency into what occurred."
Earlier this month, the sheriff's department released a brief statement after Marshall was taken to the hospital. It said, in part, "The facts and circumstances surrounding the incident are being reviewed. To protect the integrity of the investigation, we are unable to release any additional information at this time."
Rattled by the loss of her uncle and the crowd who turned out to show her support, Natalia pursed her lips and slowly shook her head from side to side.
"I honestly don't know what happened," she said. "I just hope and pray that they didn't kill my uncle."