Denver Police officers are fired on occasion -- but they don't always stay fired. This fact has been reinforced again by the actions of a hearing officers panel, which ruled that Detective Jay Estrada should don his uniform again. Last June, Estrada was sacked for lying in a high profile hit-and-run case, and the panel didn't dispute this assertion. So why is Estrada back?
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.
According to the 9News report linked above, however, 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 -- enough reason for him to be reinstated, the panel determined.
That explanation wasn't good enough for current Manager of Safety Alex Martinez, who released a statement pledging to appeal this 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.
As 9News notes, Estrada is the seventh jettisoned cop out of the last ten to be invited back into the ranks -- a pattern of behavior rued by attorney Siddhartha Rathod in our January post about the reinstatement of officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, originally disappeared over an alleged 2009 brutality incident at the Denver Diner. "It seems like Denver can't really fire a police officer," he told us, "because they all get reinstated. And by keeping officers like these...they endanger everyone's lives."
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Look below to see the original (and highly redacted) report about the firing of Detective Estrada.
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More from our News archive: "Ricky Nixon, cop fired over incident at Denver Diner, tied to earlier beating & shooting death."