Update: The Denver Sheriff Department has issued a new statement about the Ever Valles case, which is detailed in our previous report, on view below:
“The death of Tim Cruz was a tragedy, and the Denver Sheriff Department wishes to send its sincere condolences to his family and friends in this difficult time. The circumstances of this case painfully illustrate the difficult and separate responsibilities of local safety officials and federal immigration authorities.
“Denver has never, and will never, condone dangerous or violent individuals being on our streets, immigrants or not. However, detaining anyone without a criminal warrant is a violation of the 4th Amendment. Once individuals in Denver’s jails post a bond, the Sheriff Department has no legal ability to hold them without a warrant, as was the case with Ever Valles.
“Denver believes there has to be a better system for all of us to focus on criminals who mean harm while protecting residents who work hard every day and provide for their families. Denver is focused on enacting policies and practices that protect people’s safety and their rights, including the rights of immigrants, while allowing federal authorities to focus on immigration enforcement that removes dangerous and violent felons from our streets. We should all focus on creating a system where federal and local governments respect each other’s responsibilities and work together to close the gaps. Denver is committed to that effort.”
Continue for our earlier coverage.
Original post, 6:52 a.m.: Ever Valles, one of two men arrested after the February 7 RTD light-rail station murder of Tim Cruz, is due in court today after being formally charged with murder and more by the Denver District Attorney's Office. The case has garnered national attention, especially in the conservative press, thanks to the revelation that Valles, who's from Mexico, was released by the Denver Sheriff Department in December 2016 after his arrest for another crime despite his being targeted for deportation.
As we've reported, Valles's arrest affidavit notes that the Denver Police Department was notified about a homicide at the light-rail station at around 2 a.m. on the 7th. The Denver coroner's office notes that the victim, Cruz, was pronounced dead at the scene. The manner of his death was a gunshot wound.
The report points out that the station had "numerous video surveillance cameras" and that "the murder was recorded on video."
RTD transit police quickly provided DPD investigators with a copy of this material, which showed two suspects.
"One suspect wore a black half-face mask with a white-colored backpack and the other suspect had a half-face mask that appeared to be a skull lower-jaw-with-teeth print and a dark colored backpack," the affidavit recounts. "The suspect wearing a solid black mask and white backpack was armed with a large handgun."
The narrative adds that both suspects could be seen searching the victim's jacket and taking away items, after which "the suspect with the black mask grabbed the victim, walked him several feet away from the victim's belongings and shot and killed the victim. There were no witnesses."
Metro Denver Crimestoppers subsequently released the following image of the suspects.
The masks worn by the suspects made identification challenging. But on February 8, the report reveals, a confidential informant came to Denver police headquarters and "provided details about possible suspects."
This individual said he had been with the two suspects the previous week, and at that time, they'd been wearing the same outfits as they were on the night in question. The person identified one of the men as "Ever" and showed a detective the former's Facebook page.
Valles was also in the DPD's database, and after getting ID confirmation from the tipster, members of the department's fugitive unit took the suspect into custody on a parole violation. The report says that after being read his rights, Valles spoke to a detective. He is said to have denied any involvement in the incident before acknowledging that he had been at the scene. He maintained that Valdez was the one who'd actually killed Cruz, but he admitted to "checking the victim's coat pockets prior to the shooting because he was afraid that Nathan might shoot him. Valles did not know why Nathan shot the victim."
Later in the affidavit, Valles is quoted as saying that as the men ran away, Valdez pointed his gun at his partner and uttered the line, "You saw too much." Valles responded by pleading for his life, then running away, at which point Valdez allegedly fired. The bullet grazed his hip, Valles said, and the report confirms that there was a "bullet wound on Valles's left hip and a linear bruise leading to another bullet wound on his left buttock."
Valdez was subsequently captured on the evening of February 10.
On February 17, the Denver DA's office charged Valdez with one count apiece of first-degree murder, first-degree murder-robbery, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree kidnapping-gun, plus two counts of aggravated robbery-gun. For his part, Valles is accused of first-degree murder-robbery, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping-gun and four counts of aggravated robbery-gun. They're due in Denver District Court at 1:15 p.m. today for their first advisement.
Meanwhile, reports surfaced that Valles had been taken into custody this past October on allegations of car theft and more — and because he had been identified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a known gang member, his undocumented status marked him as a deportation priority for the agency.
Nonetheless, Valles was set free during the wee hours of December 21 on a $5,000 bond.
The Denver Sheriff Department did inform ICE about Valles's release in advance, as seen in the document on view below. But the paperwork was faxed only about half an hour before he hit the streets, and ICE personnel didn't see it until after he was already gone.
A DSD statement about the sequence of events reads in part, "The Denver Sheriff Department balances the rights of persons in our custody with requests from other jurisdictions. But we are part of the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters."
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This response prompted Breitbart to blast Denver as a sanctuary city. The site quoted Denver mayor Michael Hancock's remarks in a recent video on the topic. "If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title," Hancock said. "If being a sanctuary city means families and young ‘Dreamers’ live with hope and not fear, then Washington can label us whatever they want."
These words have proven to be red meat for anti-immigration voices on Facebook and plenty of other social-media platforms. As a result, Valles's court appearance today will take place against the backdrop of the national debate about U.S. policy toward the undocumented.
Here's the Denver Sheriff Department fax sent to ICE, as shared by Fox31.