Colorado rang in 2014 with a bit of a mellow buzz -- a certain relaxed attitude -- and it was a feeling that lasted throughout the year. Sure, that mellow was harshed by continuing problems with police and sheriff's deputies, as well as a very contested (and expensive) election season. But we also got a few needed civics lessons in the form of same-sex marriage and student protests. In the end, though, our minds remained tuned to the biggest story of the year: legalized marijuana. What will 2015 bring? Who knows? Anything can happen when you're a mile high. For proof, here are our strangest Colorado police stories of 2014, compiled from news sources across Colorado -- including Westword. Or, you can check out all our Year in Review 2014: Strange But True.
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft swept into Denver in 2014, delighting the public, infuriating the cab companies and confusing politicians and cops. In July, a Denver police officer pulled over an Uber vehicle near DIA, told the driver and passenger -- Dave Cook, of Seattle -- that Uber was illegal, then lectured them about Colorado law...incorrectly. Ride-sharing was officially authorized here in June, though Uber had been operating before that. The DPD later apologized to the man, repeatedly, and created a new officer-training program.
Denver sheriff's deputy Paul Della Rosa, 52, earned ninety days in the slammer and four years of probation after supplying a group of fourteen-year-old girls with booze at the Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk. He was also accused of sending sexually suggestive and inappropriate messages to one of the girls on Facebook. Court records said that Della Rosa and the girls had partied in a hot tub, and that one of them got so drunk she threw up in it.
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Denver sheriff's deputy Roberto Roena was suspended for ninety days in July after he started a fight with an inmate, broke out some tae kwon do moves and then lied about what happened, according to news reports. A former tae kwon do instructor, Roena had apparently been discussing the martial arts with fellow deputies when an inmate began taunting him about it. Roena then used his moves on the inmate before the situation devolved into a brawl.
Lakewood cops who were conducting a prostitution sting in April watched a "known prostitute" enter a car on West Colfax, but when they stopped the car, they discovered that the man with the prostitute was an off-duty Denver cop. The officer was placed on leave until both police departments had a chance to investigate.
Booze, cops, guns and swinging. The headlines don't get any better than that, and in June, those headlines told the tale of two Denver police officers, Steve Sloan and Jeremy Ownbey, their wives, and a party that quickly went downhill. According to the Aurora police, who were called to bust things up, the two officers had gotten into a fistfight, as had their wives. The fighting started at an alcohol-fueled party at which the couples also talked about swapping partners for sex; eventually, the Sloans asked the Ownbeys to leave. When they wouldn't, Sloan pulled his piece. But the details of what happened next changed over the next few months. The Sloans were never charged with any crime, and charges against Jeremy Ownbey were dropped in December due to a lack of evidence. Only Ownbey's wife, Jamie, is still facing legal action related to the wild night.
An Arapahoe County sheriff's deputy faced disciplinary action in June after she apparently showed up drunk to a training session at an immigration detention center. Fellow deputies notified their supervisor when they smelled alcohol on her breath.