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Mentally Ill Prisoner Marched To Hospital Stark Naked

— June 2, 2017

Mentally Ill Prisoner Marched To Hospital Stark Naked

Deputies at the Denver Sheriff Department are taking heat after forcing a severely mentally ill inmate to march into Denver Health stark naked.  An incident began on May 4, 2015, and continued into the early morning hours of May 5th.  Prisoner Christopher Colbruno was in his cell when he decided to take apart a box of electronics placed in his confines for the purpose of opening the door.  He began to eat some of the wires and metal screws inside, which, according to his attorney, David Lane, is a common occurrence for his client when he is undergoing a psychotic episode.

Mentally Ill Prisoner Marched To Hospital Stark Naked
Image Courtesy of Denver Sheriff Department

“Christopher Colbruno is severely mentally ill,” Lane said. “He’s a prisoner with severe mental illness, and one of the manifestations of his mental illness is that he eats metal. He’d previously eaten a pen, and he was extremely self-destructive when he was in a psychotic episode.”

When deputies at the department noticed what the man was doing, they immediately grabbed him and took him to Denver Health to be examined.  On the way, Colbruno soiled his pants, so the officers stripped him down.  But, instead of offering him a blanket or some other material to cover with, they left him stark naked when marching him into the hospital.  They reasoned Colbruno was so mentally deranged that he there was no need for him to remain dignified.  When he entered, Colbruno was wearing only a pair of orange mittens to curtail further dangerous ingestion of inedible products.  

Colbruno was strapped to a hospital bed by the clinic’s staff with a belly chain and leg irons.  Carmen Kassalty, in charge of managing the staff took note of the patient’s appearance and voiced her concerns with Elias Diggins, interim sheriff at the time, and Captain Paul Ortega.  Both of these men are named in the claim filed on Colbruno’s behalf.  Her e-mail to the officers states, “Denver Health would like the Denver Police Department to review the fact the patient was completely naked” when brought to the hospital.

Mentally Ill Prisoner Marched To Hospital Stark Naked
Image Courtesy of

Captain Ortega assigned Internal Affairs Bureau senior investigator Brent Miller to look into the matter, according to records.  During his investigation, Miller found surveillance footage of Colbruno being escorted naked to Denver Health.  However, instead of immediately being able to use this footage as evidence to pin the officers for a crime, Ortega allegedly ordered Miller not to upload the file, because the department was “making it go away; it’s not going to be a case,” the lawsuit maintains. Records also indicate, “Ortega explained that ‘they’ was the Interim Sheriff, Diggins. Ortega then ordered Miller to ‘get rid of the video.’”

Miller refused to comply with orders to discard the evidence of the inmate being marched stark naked for all to see and was subsequently fired.  Soon afterwards, he filed a wrongful termination whistleblower lawsuit. The case is still pending.

As for Colbruno’s lawsuit, his attorney maintains, “It’s important because every single individual in our society has the right to be treated with respect and dignity by the government, and that includes what used to be called the least among us — which is severely mentally ill prisoners. So we are seeking to vindicate the basic and essential human dignity of Mr. Colbruno.”  Oh, and he also made sure to grab hold of that tape for evidence in the case even though he doesn’t plan to openly share the file unless completely necessary. “I don’t want to send it out, since that would further diminish the humanity of Mr. Colbruno,” Lane explains.


Claim: Christopher Colbruno’s Naked March Led to Denver Sheriff’s Coverup

Colbruno v. Diggins, et. al.

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