A Denver police officer who narrowly avoided being fired for a 2014 brawl at what's been described as a swingers' party is under investigation again.
According to Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson, Officer Jeremy Ownbey is "assigned to home pending the outcome of an internal investigation."
Jackson says the reason for the investigation can't be divulged until the inquiry is completed. However, he confirms that Ownbey has been receiving his standard pay since January 3, when his current assignment — he doesn't use the term "suspension" — was put in place.
Ownbey's previous trouble with the law flared up in June 2014, when he and his wife, Jamie Ownbey, faced charges in Aurora over a get-together with Steven Sloan, another Denver cop, and Sloan's wife, Stephanie.
Jeremy and Steven were said to be best friends who entered the police academy together and even took joint vacations. But according to a May 2014 Aurora Police Department report, they also shared other things — specifically, their spouses.
An excerpt from the report:
Jamie stated she, Jeremy and Steven have been involved with swinging (amongst themselves) and Steven would like Stephanie (Sloan) to join but she (Stephanie) will not. I asked Jamie (Ownbey) if she had ever been personally intimate with Steven (Sloan), she stated 'yes, during a swing session with Steven and his ex-wife years ago.' Jamie further stated she also participated in two swing sessions with Steven and Jeremy, the most recent was approximately four years ago.
The police document's narrative also includes information about Jamie shedding her top to expose her "lacy undergarments" and supposedly force-feeding Stephanie tequila shots.
The beverages didn't lead to love.
The report maintained that Sloan "started to fight with Jeremy, with both of them throwing punches at each other.... He admitted to not winning the fight, and after being punched numerous times in the head, he felt as if he was going to lose consciousness."
As such, Sloan "went to get his gun from his truck because he was in fear for his safety and thought he was in danger," the document continued. "Steven stated he punched Jamie in the face for punching Stephanie, and Jamie fell to the ground. Jeremy punched Steven in the face for punching Jamie. Steven stated he then punched Jeremy."
After that, Steven ordered Jeremy to leave. But Jeremy didn't split until a 911 call was made — and by the time he returned, Aurora police officers were on the scene.
There was initially doubt about whether any of these events would result in criminal charges.
Although the APD submitted the case to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office with a recommendation of several charges against the Ownbeys, weeks passed with no action taken.
But after the case went public, the logjam miraculously broke. Jeremy and Jamie were hit with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse, because they left their two small kids at home during the festivities. Additionally, Jamie was accused of misdemeanor assault, and Jeremy faced a trespassing beef.
The criminal allegations against Jeremy fell away by the end of 2014, and in May 2016, charges were dropped against Jamie because a victim in the case refused to testify against her.
Around that same time, though, Jeremy was disciplined by the Denver department for lying to investigators, as described in this passage from a DPD disciplinary letter accessible below. Note that "IAB" stands for "Internal Affairs Bureau."
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When Aurora police officers contacted him, Officer Ownbey was uncooperative. When he did agree to talk to the officers, he gave two different versions about why he returned to the Sloan residence. He said he came back to the scene because he heard police sirens and knew that they were coming to the Sloan residence because of the incident. Then he said that he had returned to retrieve his cell phone. When he was asked if he was intoxicated, Officer Ownbey lied to the officers about the state of his intoxication. Officer Ownbey told Aurora officers that he was drunk. During the DPD IAB interview, Officer Ownbey stated that he was not drunk and admitted that he had lied to the Aurora police. He stated that he told the Aurora police that he was intoxicated so that they would believe his version of the incident. Officer Ownbey made other misrepresentations. He told the officers that Detective Sloan had pointed the gun at him and threatened to kill him. He also stated that this was between him and Detective Sloan. When he was informed by Aurora officers that a report would be made and that DPD IAB had been notified about the incident, Officer Ownbey told the Aurora officers that he would lie to the DPD Internal Affairs Bureau about his claim that Detective Sloan had pointed a gun at him.
For these actions, Jeremy was suspended for ninety days after reportedly signed an agreement acknowledging that he would be sacked if he found more trouble over the course of the next two years. He'd been with the department for a decade at that point.
Because he was scheduled to return to duty on July 15 of that year, Jeremy appears to have exceeded this two-year mandate, but only just. While Jackson doesn't offer a prediction about when the current probe will be finished, he stresses that "we're going through the process as quickly as possible."
Click to read the 2016 Officer Jeremy Ownbey discipline letter.