Denver police suit: David Lane on false Aaron Puller charge in racially motivated attacks case
In November 2009, more than thirty African-American suspects were arrested in what the Denver Police Department described as racially motivated attacks on whites or Hispanics. Among those rounded up was Aaron Puller, who spent sixteen days in jail even though the evidence against him was false. And now, he's suing the City of Denver and one detective over the situation.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court by attorney David Lane and on view in its entirety below, Puller was arrested on November 19, 2009 as part of the LoDo assaults. At that time, Detective Paul Baca, named as a defendant in the complaint, said two witnesses, Keisha Parker and Landae Woods-King, said Puller had taken part in the attacks. But in separate police interviews, neither Parker nor Woods-King pointed the finger at Puller.
When asked about Puller's alleged guilt, Parker responded, "No, no, his grandma would kill him." As for Woods-King, he said the following after being shown a photo of Puller: "I don't know that dude. Damn, he [sic] fat as hell."
Nonetheless, Puller spent more than two weeks in stir on a million dollar bond -- and charges weren't officially dismissed until June 2010, when Denver District Court Judge Edward Bronfin determined that "no other justification apart from... a reckless disregard for the truth, could exist for the inclusion of [Baca's] statements in the Affidavit for Arrest... [T]here is simply no factual basis for the sworn assertions to the contrary."
The suit also claims Baca fabricated evidence by urging Allen Andes, Puller's alleged victim, to say a tooth he'd previously broken had actually been damaged during the attack -- a ploy allegedly intended to justify more serious charges against Puller and other defendants. Andes did so, but he recanted the story in February 2010.
To Lane, who has spent much of his career crusading against police misconduct, these events are hardly surprising. "This is business as usual for the Denver Police Department as far as I can tell," he says. "I think this is how they deem being in control -- by making up things in affidavits.
"For years, Denver has tolerated lying cops," he continues. "Not only have they tolerated them -- they've encouraged them, as far as I'm concerned."
The suit, which attempts to establish a pattern of DPD misbehavior via references to other instances of alleged corruption involving the likes of Jared Lunn and Michael DeHerrera, calls for compensatory relief, attorney fees and the like. But Lane would also like to see Baca be punished for his actions.
"Nothing's happened to him," he says. "He's still a cop, even though Aaron Puller spent sixteen days in jail based on his lies. He should not only be thrown off the police force, but he should be prosecuted and imprisoned. When you commit perjury, it's called a felony, and you should be in jail -- not Aaron Puller. And why shouldn't Baca go to jail? Oh, he's a cop. Forgot. Sorry."
Look below to read the lawsuit, which is also accessible by clicking here.
More from our News archive: "Alexander Landau on $795,000 police-brutality settlement: 'I can move forward.'"
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