Graveyard Shift

The City of Denver's plan to stop workplace violence came too late to save John Adamo.

Less than four hours later Denver officers showed up at Brady's Northglenn home and asked him to come downtown for questioning. Brady went willingly.

Initially, Brady asserted his innocence, according to police reports. Shortly before noon, he signed a consent form allowing detectives to search his house and car. He also submitted to a gunshot-residue test, which is used to determine if a person has recently fired a weapon. When officers told Brady they'd found a box of .32-caliber shells behind the seat of his truck--the same caliber used to kill Adamo--Brady tried to explain it away by claiming that he collects ammunition to sell at flea markets. The questioning dragged on. At 4 p.m. Brady agreed to submit to a polygraph test.

Denver detective Don Vecchi testified at Brady's February 18 preliminary hearing that the polygraph indicated Brady's answers were deceptive. The gunshot-residue test came back positive. When detectives confronted Brady with that information, Vecchi testifed, their suspect began to talk.

"He said he went to the Wastewater building and that he saw Adamo get on the elevator," Vecchi testified. "He got on, too, but he said he didn't say anything, because he knew he wasn't supposed to. He said Adamo said to him, 'I don't care what you say, I'm still going to park my motorcycle in the garage.' And Brady said, 'The hell you are.' And then Adamo hit him or shoved him with his [hand-held] radio."

Vecchi said Brady told officers that in the ensuing struggle, "he heard his gun go off but did not remember pulling the trigger."

According to a police report, Brady added that he "kept thinking to himself that he could not believe what he had just done and the number of lives he had ruined."

After the alleged confession, officers placed Brady under arrest. The day after the murder, according to a police report, Brady told another detective in a jailhouse interview that he'd tossed his gun into the Platte River. Although Brady reportedly provided detailed directions to the site, police officers and the fire department's dive team were unable to find a weapon.

Brady, whose lawyer has instructed him not to talk about the incident, has since pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Defense attorney Phil Cherner is now trying to get Brady's statements to police thrown out, claiming that officers didn't read Brady his rights until several hours after they began questioning him and allegedly ignored a faxed request from Cherner that they not talk to his client. Brady's trial is set for July 22.

At Wastewater, news of Adamo's death and Brady's arrest was met with astonishment. "I could not believe it," DeFiore says. "I didn't believe it. I didn't believe that a man I knew could do that."

Many employees were given the day off, Kazemian says. When they returned to work the following Tuesday (Monday had marked the observance of Martin Luther King Day), they were met by a crisis team from Denver Health Medical Center and, later, by a counseling group set up by John Nicoletti and the city's employee-assistance program.

"When the psych team came in," says a Public Works employee, "Denver Health warned us that the natural process of dealing with this would be as diverse as how people deal with the grieving process. But they did tell us some things to look for. It turned out to be so accurate that it was frightening.

"They said there would be a lot of frustration, and that some [workers] wouldn't want to blame the suspect and that they'd have to blame someone else," adds the employee.

People are bound to develop allegiances after years of working alongside each other, says Chris Weimer, director of the city's Office of Employee Assistance. "I know it was uncomfortable for many people, because they didn't know who to be angry at," notes Weimer. "And often, their anger is misdirected. As people try to make sense out of things that are senseless, they sometimes do that by pointing fingers. They go for the biggest target. And the city is the biggest target."

At the counseling session, says the Public Works employee who was present, "some of the guys were reacting violently, stirring up the group. The psychological team said they were using the situation to further their own agenda. They were saying stuff like, 'I knew this was going to happen.' You could tell their comments were not meant to be constructive. They were meant to be destructive."

Some employees "absolutely" blamed management for what happened, says DeFiore. "Some people felt Richard was getting a bum rap. They'd say, 'He'd been down here 26 years. Why was he placed on investigative leave?' You know, 'Why'd they do this? Why'd they do that?'

"Some people still harbor a grudge," concedes DeFiore. "But they might carry a grudge against management no matter what."

The city declared a moratorium on violence-in-the-workplace training for a month after Adamo's death. When the program started up again, some employees were quick to point out what they saw as similarities between Richard Brady and the prototypical perpetrator described in the training materials.

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