Denver DA Number Two Ryan Brackley Resigns Over Bat Incident, F-Bomb

Ryan Brackley during the October 2013 trial of Fred Mueller, who was tried but never convicted in the death of his wife, as featured on the CBS program 48 Hours.
Ryan Brackley during the October 2013 trial of Fred Mueller, who was tried but never convicted in the death of his wife, as featured on the CBS program 48 Hours. CBS via YouTube
Ryan Brackley, an assistant deputy district attorney and second-in-command to Denver DA Beth McCann, has resigned under pressure after revelations that he took "half-swings" with a baseball bat at a female colleague and sent another woman in the office a threatening text sporting a prominent F-bomb and a derogatory reference to her appearance.

The resignation came days after the release of a letter from McCann in which she wrote that Brackley would keep his job because she was confident he would change his behavior — though she ordered him to remove all the baseball paraphernalia from his office and told him to take part in mediation sessions with the women he was accused of bullying.

Among McCann's first actions after winning the 2016 election for Denver DA was to pick Brackley to serve as her number two — and his credentials made the choice seem logical. According to his LinkedIn page, he served for thirteen years as an assistant DA in Manhattan before taking the first assistant district attorney position in Boulder's 20th Judicial District. He held the latter role for nine years and handled many of the jurisdiction's highest-profile matters, including the case against Dynel Lane, who was convicted of cutting the unborn child from the womb of Longmont's Michelle Wilkins in 2015.

But earlier this month, the Colorado Springs Gazette revealed that Brackley had been disciplined for highly problematic behavior.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Adrienne Greene filed a formal complaint against Brackley in which she cited "what I believe to be acts ranging from unprofessional to discriminatory." Leading the list was a January 14 incident during which she said Brackley came into her office with a baseball bat over his shoulder and demanded that she alter a letter of recommendation penned on behalf of an investigator while swinging in the general direction of her shoulders and head. In addition, a staffer for the Employers Council, which McCann tasked with looking into allegations against Brackley, uncovered a text message to prosecutor Katherine Hansen in which he threatened to fire her "fat fucking ass" if she posted crime-scene photos on Facebook.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann was elected in 2016. - COURTESY OF BETH MCCANN
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann was elected in 2016.
Courtesy of Beth McCann
By the way, McCann's office denied that the inquiry into Brackley's behavior was prompted by the Gazette's plan to divulge information about the complaints against him, insisting that the probe was already under way.

A subsequent Denver Post piece quoted from a document in which McCann informed Brackley: "After careful consideration, I have decided not to ask for your resignation. I make this decision because I believe that you are and have been a valuable member of the office, that you can continue to bring value to this office and because I am confident that you can and will change your behavior." However, in addition to the aforementioned removal of baseball equipment and mediation sessions, she informed him that she also planned to restructure some of his duties in an unspecified way.

At first it appeared that McCann would be able to ride out the storm caused by Brackley. For instance, a July 26 rally planned by activist Robert Chase, who demanded that Brackley be arrested and McCann resign, made hardly a ripple. But this morning, McCann's office announced Brackley's resignation.

A press release noted that "this decision came after further consideration regarding the events outlined in a recent personnel investigation. It became clear in attempting to restructure job responsibilities that a parting was the best solution."

In a quote of her own, McCann stressed the difficulty of the move. "Ryan brought great value to the office in many ways, and he accomplished important and significant work for us and the City of Denver," she wrote. "I admire his passion, hard work, commitment to the office and considerable trial skills. I thank Ryan for his heartfelt and outstanding contributions to me, my administration, this office and to the city as a whole."

Helen Morgan, the current chief deputy for the city's behavioral health unit, will take over some of Brackley's responsibilities on an interim basis this week in advance of Friday, August 2, his official last day at the office.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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