Racially motivated attacks: More evidence of exaggeration by a Denver cop

A Channel 4 report far more impressive than the startling news that a couple of guys in Boulder were busted for driving under the influence of marijuana involved the racially motivated attacks that took place in LoDo last year; see our photo gallery of arrested suspects by clicking here.

Earlier this month, investigator Brian Maass shared claims that a Denver Police officer, Detective Paul Baca, exaggerated the injury of one victim, presumably to justify more serious charges against his attackers. Specifically, financial advisor Allen Andes says Baca encouraged him to maintain that he'd suffered a broken tooth during the mugging even though the chip had taken place some time earlier in Philadelphia.

The latest? Maass has obtained recordings of trial testimony involving Rasheed Turner and David Littlejohn during which Baca implies or directly states that Andes's tooth injury happened in Denver.

A chipped tooth may not sound like a big deal, but it was the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges.

In the end, the case against Turner was dropped due to doubts about the veracity of Baca's testimony, and Littlejohn's attorney is asking for similar treatment -- and if his request is granted, the repercussions could be considerable. In a court filing from this week, Littlejohn's lawyer writes, "This shocking behavior calls into question the entire investigation as Det. Baca interviewed most of the witnesses in the case. A police officer who swears to uphold the law who is then found to have been untruthful may give rise to doubts about the integrity of the entire process in the mind of the general public."

Foreboding words. There's little doubt crimes took place: Many of them were captured in security footage. But the Denver District Attorney may not move forward with prosecution, or may be forced to seek lesser charges, for fear that Baca's testimony in the Turner and Littlejohn matters will taint any other case in which he played a part.

The result could be violent criminals skating -- by the skin of Allen Andes's tooth.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts