Two Denver firefighters suspended without pay for declaring living woman dead during welfare check

Denver Fire Lt Patrick Lopez was demoted and given a 14-shift suspension without pay, while firefighter Marshall Henry received a 10-shift suspension

Two Denver firefighters suspended without pay for declaring living woman dead during welfare check
One police officer, who allegedly checked on the woman said she had bluish-purple discoloration of the skin, fluid leaking out of her body and that she allegedly had a foul odor like she was decomposing (9 News Screenshot)
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DENVER, COLORADO: Two firefighters from Denver were suspended without pay for declaring a woman dead when she was still alive, authorities said. The firemen made the incorrect evaluation on June 24 while aiding Denver police officers with a welfare check, according to a Denver Department of Public Safety notice of disciplinary action acquired by 9 News. Firefighter Marshall Henry was dispatched by the city's police department to do a welfare check on a woman who had not been heard from in five days.

One police officer allegedly checked on the woman and reported that she had bluish-purple skin discoloration, fluid oozing from her body, and a foul odor as if she were decaying. According to Denver Fire Lt Patrick Lopez, the officer advised the emergency personnel not to enter the building because the woman was "obviously dead." Then, according to reports, Lopez instructed his crew to remain outside. Despite the fact that neither Lopez nor Henry had actually checked on the woman, he allegedly told Henry to call the city's health services to obtain a medical certificate of death, according to 9 News.

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The woman was in an advanced state of death, Henry informed the doctor. He then responded to the physician's inquiries as if he had evaluated the patient, despite the fact that no one had done so. According to KDVR, the Department of Safety stated in the disciplinary action document that "the doctor asked clarifying questions about the patient's condition and Henry deliberately misrepresented himself to the doctor as being next to the patient and as having performed a patient assessment." The doctor then gave a pronouncement and the time of death in accordance with the disciplinary action order.

The fire department left after performing the welfare check, and another police officer at the time went back to the house to look for firearms. The police saw the woman was moving while they were there. The woman was then transported to a nearby hospital after the officer requested the return of the fire department and EMS. The current condition of the woman is unclear. While a police officer denied instructing the fire crew not to enter the house, Henry reportedly acknowledged his mistake and both he and Lopez informed their superiors.

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According to Denver Gazette, an investigation into the matter seemed to indicate that Lopez had lied to his supervisors in order to shift the blame to the police officer, according to 9 News. As a result, he was demoted from lieutenant to firefighter and given a 14-shift suspension without pay. Henry on the other hand was not demoted and was given a 10-shift suspension without pay. Both have returned to work after serving their suspensions because there were no prior offenses on their past work records.

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