Denver Manager of Safety Charles Garcia's decision to fire Officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr for their actions in the Michael DeHerrera beating this past March wasn't the end of discipline against allegedly bad policemen. This week alone, Garcia has sacked two more cops (Jay Estrada and Kenneth Briggle) and suspended two others (Daren Ciempa and Bryan O'Neill) -- actions that have caused internal police grumbling to go public.
Documents about these actions on view below are heavily redacted, and Manager of Safety spokeswoman Kathy Maloney says the policy of Garcia's office is not to comment further on firings or suspensions. However, Detective Estrada was fired for the "commission of a deceptive act" and "misleading and inaccurate statements" related to the hit-and-run accident that badly injured Laurie Gorham, who was pregnant last December, when she was struck. The baby didn't survive.
According to CBS4, Estrada, an eleven-year veteran of the DPD, received information about the Gorham case but didn't follow up on it, and then lied to superiors who questioned him on the subject.
Detective Briggle, for his part, "was found in contempt of court by a Weld County judge, in relation to his divorce proceeding" this past summer, according to the document pertaining to his firing. The Denver Post points out that Briggle was ordered to serve 37 days of work release as a result of his actions.
Meanwhile, Sergeant O'Neill received a thirty-day suspension and Lieutenant Ciempa a pair of forty-day suspensions to be served concurrently in relation to what the complaint summary describes as an "effort to 'interview' the commander," John Burbach, "in reference to an informal investigation on District Six Officers." According to the Post, this session was meant to reveal Burbach's bias against the officers in question. Ciempa is said to have given O'Neill the go-ahead to use a video recorder that looked like a pocket pen in an attempt to capture embarrassing statements.
Given the volume of dismissals -- seven so far this year -- it's no surprise that resentment against Garcia is growing among the boys and girls in blue. Today, the front page of the Post features an e-mail from Sergeant Ricki Stern, who wrote, "We have no use for people who sit in the comfort of their air conditioned box seats and watch those of us that get our faces bloodied in the arena and then pass judgment on us based (on) what they would have done. Unlike a football game, what we do is real and the consequences for not doing what needs to be done in the heat of the battle can and has been fatal."
At least thus far, Garcia shows no sign of buckling under such pressure. Given the mayoral election slated for next Tuesday, he's widely perceived to be a short timer, since the winner will likely install his own guy in the Manager of Safety job -- or perhaps eliminate the position entirely, as Chris Romer has discussed. That situation provides a sense of freedom, and Garcia seems to be using it.
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