Stuart Shapiro is an accomplished attorney who made significant contributions to the city of Denver, the City Attorney’s Office said in an unusual statement of apology to the man at the center of a scandal in that office.
The public apology acknowledges that Shapiro’s professional reputation was placed “under a cloud” when he was placed on extended administrative leave following the $3.25 million settlement of Jamal Hunter’s claims of abuse at the Denver jail.
Hunter’s claims contributed to changes in how inmate grievances are handled and the departure of previous Sheriff Gary Wilson.
Shapiro was accused of withholding documents and pressuring police officers during the investigation and spent two years on administrative leave.
Shapiro filed a claim against the city that alleged he had suffered retaliation as a “whistleblower” for exposing misconduct within the office.
The Denver City Council approved a $660,000 settlement of those claims Monday, and the letter of apology, which constitutes “a full and complete exoneration,” is part of the settlement agreement.
It’s very rare for either party to admit to any wrongdoing in a settlement agreement. At the same time, the city still denies any violation of the Whistleblower Ordinance. The settlement also calls for Shapiro to retire as of Sept. 1 and not apply for work with the City Attorney’s Office in the future.
The City Council voted 11-1 Monday to approve the settlement. The City Attorney’s Office will pay $300,000 out of its personnel fund, while the city will pay another $360,000 out of its liability claims fund.
Councilwoman Debbie Ortega voted no, as she was out of town and didn’t have an opportunity to be briefed on the settlement. Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman was absent.
Councilman Paul Kashmann then read into the record a letter signed by all the council members except Chris Herndon. While Kashmann said council members cannot discuss details of the case, the words they chose leave little doubt that something went very wrong with this case.
“We share the public’s distress at this particular resolution of a very difficult situation,” he said.
And while it was prudent and in the best interests of all to settle the case rather than go to trial, “we are firm in our belief that the situation leading to this settlement could have been prevented and pledge to work with the new city attorney to ensure that similar scenarios do not arise in the future.”
Former City Attorney Scott Martinez resigned in May. Kristin Bronson will take over in October.
You can read the full statement here.