Stick to your guns: Every accused felon is entitled to a defense, of course, but still, Rob Coleman's is a doozy--a head injury made him do it. Just last December, remember, Coleman was the hero of every pistol-packing, private-property-protecting Dirty Harry fan in town. On December 7, when state senator Pat Pascoe came to his door to tell him that someone had broken into her house nearby, the pajama-clad Coleman rushed off to the rescue, shouting at the fleeing burglars to stop--and then shooting Jeffrey Nowman from 300 feet away, paralyzing him.
The situation was as loaded as Coleman's gun. Pascoe has been an outspoken gun-control advocate in the General Assembly; her son Ted chaired the re-election campaign of Denver district attorney Bill Ritter. Despite protests from Coleman's supporters, Ritter's office ultimately filed first-degree assault charges against him, arguing that a property owner's protection under Colorado's "Make My Day" law didn't extend to a neighbor and that Coleman had erred by taking the law into his own hands.
Now we learn that Coleman actually thought he was the law--at least, according to motions filed in Denver District Court last week by attorney Don Goldy. Apparently, Coleman has had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on a number of occasions: In November 1992, when he was rear-ended by another motorist and suffered head injuries; in January 1993, when he was dancing at the Brown Palace and a light fixture fell on his head; and again in August 1994, when he was riding a motorcycle and a motorist cut him off, resulting in an accident that knocked Coleman unconscious. After suffering each of those injuries, Goldy argued, Coleman reverted to the mindset of a cop--which he had been for a brief time in San Diego twenty years before--and he did the same when Pascoe came to his door. "He kicked into being a police officer," wrote Goldy.
The defense's argument has those who work with the head-injured abuzz. "My clients can't tie their shoe, much less shoot a man at that distance," says one local therapist.
Back-to-school special: Leaving the life of a Wynkoop bartender for a full-time reporting job at the Denver Post was a major shift for Mark Stevens. But it pales compared to his latest career move: from writing about the Denver Public Schools for the Post to handling reporters for DPS. This summer Stevens will leave the paper and move over to DPS headquarters, where he's been hired to do public relations. Superintendent Irv Moskowitz is the main reason he made the switch, Stevens says: "He wants real hardcore thought and analysis." (And judging by the DPS's botched handling of the Ruben Perez situation, he could use some.) But Stevens had another pressing concern: If he crossed the line from reporter to flack, could he still play with the Post band, the Corrections? "I begged and pleaded," he confesses. The other bandmembers gave in--but then, Stevens notes, he helped pay for the band's sound system.
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Former Post editor Bill Hornby is also going public--as Mayor Wellington Webb's chair of the Denver Planning Board. No word yet on whether Hornby will keep his "growth is good" corner on the Post's editorial page. In fact, no word yet on who'll become editorial-page editor when Chuck Green leaves that spot. Green will move to a columnist's slot, though--not a job flacking for the Denver Police Department. Although you might be forgiven for thinking that, given Green's recent golf game with Denver police chief Dave Michaud, which was quickly followed by an editorial defending Michaud's demotion of division chief and Mary Degroot supporter Miriam Reed. Fore!