Things that won’t get you fired from Denver law enforcement, 2017 edition

The yearly report on everything that has gone wrong — and right — for Denver’s thousands of law officers has arrived.
8 min. read
A police motorcycle on the 16th Street Mall, Nov. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A police motorcycle on the 16th Street Mall, Nov. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The yearly report on everything that has gone wrong -- and right -- for Denver's thousands of law officers has arrived.

Published by the city's police oversight agency, the newly released document tracks all of the law officers who were fired or significantly disciplined in 2017, along with those who received commendations.

In all, three sheriff's employees were fired, while nine more quit or retired before they could be disciplined. No police officers were fired, but eight more left before they could be disciplined.

We read it. Here are the highlights, with all information sourced from the Office of the Independent Monitor.

Didn't get fired:

A police sergeant "unholstered his duty weapon, set it on a desk, and pointed it in the direction of another sergeant." He was criminally charged and demoted to the rank of police officer 1.

A sheriff's division chief and a captain were demoted after allegedly giving special treatment to a granddaughter of former mayor Wellington Webb. The chief's demotion was changed to a 30-day suspension on appeal. A sergeant was suspended two days.

A deputy was suspended 45 days after allegedly threatening to poke an inmate's eye out and lying about it.

A sheriff's sergeant was suspended 40 days after allegedly entering an inmate's cell and fighting him. Two deputies were injured as they responded. In a settlement agreement, the sergeant got 55 days of pay back. He retired this year.

A deputy was suspended 30 days for asking to kiss a female deputy and repeatedly hugging her in 2016. It was reduced to 18 days in a settlement agreement.

A police officer was suspended 30 days for allegedly paying a woman for sex acts that were later discovered in an undercover investigation.

A sheriff's sergeant was suspended 30 days for using his badge in an attempt to get faster restaurant service in 2016.

A deputy was suspended 20 days for getting into a bar fight while out on family medical leave. It was reduced to five days in a settlement.

Several deputies and a sergeant were suspended 18 days and lost vacation hours after leaving their posts early in 2016.

An officer was suspended 16 days for working too many off-duty jobs.

A deputy was suspended 14 days for falling asleep while guarding an inmate at a hospital in 2016. She has appealed.

Deputies were suspended 16 days and 10 days, respectively, for putting their bodies on Michael Marshall for 13 minutes and inappropriately using "police nunchakus" on him at the jail; Marshall died. A captain was suspended 10 days for alleged failure to supervise. A hearing officer overturned all three punishments, and they're now on appeal. The city paid $4.65 million to Marshall's family.

A sheriff's captain responded to young people at the jail in a "lewd and unprofessional" way. He was suspended for 14 days.

A sergeant was suspended 14 days for having a jail inmate flush some possible crystal meth down a toilet. It was reduced to six days with a settlement.

A deputy was suspended 10 days after failing to provide menstrual products or new clothing to a woman in the jail who had bled through her underwear and pants. The woman was left in her cell for four hours without clean clothes or sanitary supplies; the deputy also refused a request by court staff to interview the inmate, which delayed her ability to appear in court and make bond. The deputy's punishment was reduced to five days and an anger management course in a settlement.

A deputy was suspended 10 days for kicking a flap in a jail cell while an inmate's arm was in it. Another deputy was suspended 18 days in a similar incident, while a third deputy got a 60 day suspension due to his disciplinary record.

An officer was suspended 10 days for falling asleep drunk when he was supposed to be "immediately accessible" at his home during work hours.

An officer was suspended 10 days for leaving someone in a holding cell for nine hours. The limit is one hour.

An officer was suspended 10 days for calling in sick when he wasn't sick.

An officer was suspended 10 days for slapping a woman in a detox facility, and then shoving her head against a wall, pushing on it, and calling her a "dumb bitch." She had hit him on his forearm. He appealed but lost.

A deputy was suspended 10 days after getting tricked by an inmate who swapped her ID bracelet, was released to the state patrol and escaped custody. His suspension was dropped to seven days on appeal.

An officer was suspended four days for using a Taser on a "fleeing, seemingly unarmed suspect who did not pose a threat," per the report. A sergeant was suspended 10 days for finding that was a reasonable thing to do. (The sergeant had a prior discipline history.)

A sergeant was suspended three days for spending several working hours investigating the theft of his daughter's phone. He left his jurisdiction and used police resources.

They got fired:

Three Denver sheriff's employees were fired in 2017.

A deputy allegedly slammed a man in jail into a counter and struck him in 2016, and was fired last year. He has appealed.

Two sergeants were fired after allegedly ignoring signs that a jail employee was drunk. They allegedly made deceptive statements to internal affairs, too. Both have appealed.

They quit:

An officer pleaded guilty to taking $1,200 from a car at a crime scene in Oct. 2016. He previously claimed that the money fell into his bag. He resigned.

A sergeant quit after a victim of sexual abuse alleged in Jan. 2017 that he had disclosed her personal information and photographs in an interview for a documentary.

An officer quit after allegedly getting involved at a bar fight in May 2017. An officer quit after being charged with domestic violence. (The charges were dismissed.) A sergeant quit after being charged with DUI and possession of a firearm while under the influence. An officer quit after a harassment charge. A sergeant quit after allegedly conducting "thousands of inappropriate internet searches over the course of several years."

A deputy was accused of using "vulgar and inappropriate language" toward women in jail. A few weeks later, he was accused of having or attempting to have a relationship with an incarcerated woman. He quit.

A deputy quit after allegedly driving 24 mph over the speed limit and allegedly lying about it. A deputy quit after allegedly using drugs. A deputy quit after allegedly living with a former jail inmate who was on parole and asking a colleague to expedite processes for the parolee, and then lying about it.

A deputy quit after allegedly telling untruths about a worker's comp claim. A deputy quit after allegedly lying to police and later driving with a license under restraint. A sergeant quit after allegedly using inappropriate force in the jail.

A deputy quit after allegedly looking at porn at work and lying about it. A deputy quit after allegedly using a security camera to watch football.

Worth mentioning:

An officer used a tourniquet to save a woman who had apparently slashed her wrists. Two officers saved a gunshot victim in a car by applying direct pressure and keeping the car's occupants calm. An officer was critically injured by a motorcyclist who crashed in a bike race.

A detective and an officer responded to a call about a suicidal man on a 16-story apartment. The detective talked to the man while the officer and firefighters put on harnesses. As the man approached the ledge, the firefighters and officer grabbed him and hauled him to safety. The police received "top cop" awards.

An officer came upon a house fire while he patrolled. Hearing a man shouting, he grabbed a garden hose and sprayed the door, then ran in and attempted to get the man. Part of the house collapsed while the officer attempted the rescue. Later, more officers arrived and continued to spray the house. The Denver Fire Department rescued the man from the fire. The officer received a medal of valor.

Three detectives responded to a call from a person who had been kidnapped. Their investigation resulted in the indictment of 18 suspects on 128 felony counts.

Two officers found five handguns, an inert grenade, and a lot of meth and heroin during a traffic stop. Two officers de-escalated a confrontation with a man who wielded a butcher knife during a domestic assault.

Deputies also were commended. For example, they helped victims of car crashes, provided tours of jails for students and extinguished a man who was on fire at Civic Center Park.


Community complaints about the police were up 6 percent, to 412 in total. Only about 15 percent of those were sustained, while another 14 percent went to mediation. Community complaints against the sheriff's department increased sharply, possibly due to a change in how they handle complaints.

Internal complaints were up 39 percent, to 129 complaints. More than half were sustained.

In all, 65 percent of officers were not the subject of any complaints, and 95 percent were not the subject of a use-of-force complaint. Citizens submitted 118 letters of commendation about DPD officers, and about 300 more received other types of recognition.

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