By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Two Denver police officers captured on videotape knocking women to the ground with nightsticks and spraying them with Mace have been fired for lying to investigators about the arrests.
Charles Garcia, Denver's Manager of Safety, said in a statement on Tuesday that officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine were terminated after a "very fair, thorough and complete review" of the case.
"We continue to hold the Denver Police Department to the highest standards of professionalism and will not tolerate untruthfulness or inappropriate force," Garcia said.
The officers were terminated for making "deceptive" statements during an excessive force investigation of the July 2009 incident.
The melee outside a Denver restaurant was caught on city surveillance cameras. The videotape depicts officers shoving several women to the ground with billy clubs as they quelled the disturbance.
At one point, an officer is seen spraying Mace in the face of a woman while another officer has her on the ground in a submission hold.
The officer then sprays Mace into a crowd of onlookers.
Garcia has fired four officers over arrests caught on security cameras since he took over as safety manager last month.
Critics accused Garcia's predecessors of a sluggish response to complaints of police brutality, and then meting out light punishment to officers found at fault.
The Denver police union did not immediately return calls for comment but union president Nick Rogers defended the officers, telling a Denver TV station that "there is no pretty way to arrest someone."
Interim Mayor Bill Vidal issued a statement supporting the firings.
"Our citizens trust that our police officers model truth and decency, and when an officer departs from the truth, the excellent reputation of our police force as a whole is damaged," Vidal said. "We can not and will not tolerate this behavior."
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)