As we've documented in a series of blog posts over the past year or so, the Denver Sheriff's Department has been beset by scandals -- so many that yesterday, Mayor Michael Hancock accepted Sheriff Gary Wilson's resignation and appointed Division Chief Elias Diggins to fill the job on an interim basis.
But this attempt to smooth the waters wasn't wholly successful: Last night, news broke that Diggins has a criminal record. Continue for details about that revelation, following a recap of five incidents that helped seal Wilson's fate.
Number 1: The Brad Lovingier video
In a video obtained by the Colorado Independent, Deputy Brad Lovingier can be seen slamming handcuffed inmate Anthony Waller into a wall during a court hearing, seemingly with little or no provocation. Here's the clip:
It took a year for Lovingier to be disciplined.
Number 2: Deputy Matthew Andrews's escape assist
In April 2013, Felix Trujillo became the first person to escape from Denver's new jail -- and he did so with a little help from Deputy Matthew Andrews, who let the inmate wear his hat and coat as he left the building.
Andrews swore he'd only aided in the escape because of threats to his family. But a few weeks later, Trujillo publicly claimed Andrews actually assisted him because he believed the con was rich and would give him a big reward.
This past January, Andrews was sentenced to six months in prison.
Number 3: Michael Than's taxing behavior
In April, Than, once the second highest ranking member of the Denver Sheriff's Department, was indicted in Jefferson County. Among the allegations against him: He's said to have stolen 1,288 copies of Turbo Tax software from assorted Target stores in the Denver area and resold them on eBay for more than $60,000. Number 4: The Jamal Hunter lawsuit
In 2012, former inmate Jamal Hunter filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and individual law enforcers for failing to properly protect him, after he says inmates scalded his genitals with boiling water and two deputies attacked him. Last month, a judge released additional documents in the case that included references to porn, pot, on-duty drunkenness and brutality among deputies at the jail.
Thomas Ford wasn't mentioned by name in Hunter's lawsuit even though he was one of two deputies caught on video roughing him up. But his moniker would soon get headline treatment.
Number 5: The Thomas Ford punch-out
In another Colorado Independent scoop, a video surfaced showing Ford laying out a non-violent inmate with one punch. Here's that clip:
The Manager of Safety's Office responded to this matter with a news release announcing that Ford was under investigation and portraying Wilson as taking strong action to address "the community's concerns as it relates to deputy misconduct." But these efforts weren't enough to save Wilson's job -- not that he's currently unemployed. Although he stepped down as Sheriff, he'll continue to serve as a division chief.
Diggins, meanwhile, will take the helm at least temporarily -- but the odds of him getting the job permanently took a major blow last night. As 7News reports, Diggins was once charged with an attempt to influence a public official, a felony. Diggins told the station the accusation came about following a 1996 car crash, when he lied to a judge about having insurance. In the end, he pleaded guilty to making a false report, a misdemeanor.
This offense doesn't compare to the five happenings that led to Sheriff Wilson's resignation. But neither does it turn the subject away from problems at the Denver Sheriff's Department. Instead, it simply adds another one, undoubtedly fueling critics who believe the agency is either incompetent or out of control.
Look below to read the 7News-obtained report about Diggins's record.
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