Denver cop: All that missing money fell into my bag by accident

Julian Archuleta, a Denver police officer, was accused of stealing $1,200 in cash after a car chase. He pleaded guilty to misconduct and second-degree theft.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Julian Archuleta, a Denver police officer, has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of misconduct and second-degree theft on allegations that he stole $1,200 in cash after a car chase. He apparently was foiled by his own body camera and hampered an aggravated-assault case against a suspect in the process.

The backstory:

This all starts with someone in a vehicle firing shots in the direction of two parked police cars. Two Denver police officers promptly pursued the suspects’ vehicle through northeastern Denver. The vehicle rolled, the driver fled, a passenger was knocked unconscious and Archuleta was called to the scene to take photographs, according to an affidavit.

Body-camera footage showed Archuleta searching through the vehicle and discovering a stack of cash, the affidavit states. He removes several bills from the stack, including a hundred, before placing some paperwork on top of the money, the court filing states.

Crime-scene investigators later analyzed the scene, finding $118 in cash but no hundred-dollar bills.

A review of body-camera footage revealed the discrepancy, and further investigation showed no other officers besides Archuleta had searched the vehicle prior to the discrepancy’s discovery, according to the affidavit.

Upon being notified of the issue, Archuleta reportedly said that he was going to “check his war bag” to ensure the money hadn’t somehow slipped in there. An hour later, the affidavit states, he called an officer to say that he had found $1,200 that “must have fallen in his bag,” the affidavit states.

He returned the money to internal affairs without comment, according to the document. The alleged manipulation of the items in the vehicle was “a contributing factor” to the Denver District Attorney’s Office’s decision not to file aggravated assault charges against a suspect in the car-chase case, as a search warrant hadn’t yet been issued at the time of Archuleta’s actions, according to the affidavit.

The plea:

Archuleta, 49, was charged with a felony count of evidence tampering, a misdemeanor count of theft, and two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.

He pleaded to two of the misdemeanors, theft and misconduct. He was a patrol officer who joined the force in 2004.

He had been suspended since his arrest and he resigned from the Denver Police Department last Friday after his plea and sentencing.

Julian Archuleta (Denver DA)

Julian Archuleta (Denver DA)