Denver's Civil Service Commission has been under fire for not letting fired cops stay fired from the likes of Mayor Michael Hancock, who called for reform after the reinstatement of two officers sacked over the 2009 billy-clubbing incident at the Denver Diner. Is the criticism having an effect? One clue: Yesterday, the DCSC reversed a panel's decision to return canned Detective Jay Estrada to the force.
As we reported last year, then-Manager of Safety Charles Garcia gave Estrada the heave-ho 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.
An eleven-year veteran of the DPD, Estrada reportedly received information about the Gorham case but didn't follow up on it, and then lied to superiors who questioned him on the subject.
But Estrada's obfuscations involved a car that ultimately was found not to be involved in the crime against Gorham. As such, the lies didn't impact the case, according to a three-member hearing panel. For that reason, the trio's report, issued in February and on view below in its entirety, upheld a sixteen-day suspension without pay but nixed jettisoning him entirely.
This rationale didn't satisfy current Manager of Safety Alex Martinez, who released a statement pledging to appeal the decision to the Civil Service Commission. It reads:
Although the Office of the Manager of Safety respects the authority of the Civil Service Hearing Officers, we disagree with their ruling in the Estrada case and have asked the City Attorney's Office to appeal the decision. Once again, the hearing officers have misunderstood the nature of deceptive conduct; in this case, the concept of materiality. In this office's view, the conduct was material even if it would not have changed the outcome of the investigation. We do not tolerate deceptive conduct and we will continue to impose appropriate discipline.
Martinez's appeal went before the full commission, which consists of five members. And yesterday, as 7News notes, they reversed the panel's decision under the rationale that Estrada's undisputed lying broke a rule in the DPD manual that says officers and the like can't commit a deceptive act "in connection with any investigation or any judicial or administrative proceeding," whether it wound up being material to the case or not. Hence, Estrada will not be returning to his job with the department.
Will wonders never cease.
Continue to see the original Manager of Safety report about the firing of Detective Estrada, followed by the panel's aforementioned February ruling.
More from our News archive: "Ricky Nixon, cop fired over incident at Denver Diner, tied to earlier beating & shooting death."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.