Update: Late last month, we told you about a lawsuit filed by the family of Ashley Fallis, whose husband, former Weld County jail deputy Tom Fallis, was charged with killing her on New Year's Day of 2012 after originally claiming she'd committed suicide. See our previous coverage below.
The original lawsuit charged members of the Evans Police Department with covering up evidence of the murder, allowing Tom to remain free and go unpunished for years.
Now, an amended lawsuit accuses representatives of the Weld County Sheriff's Office of suppressing evidence of a crime, too — and a deputy has now been put on administrative leave in association with the case.
Meanwhile, CBS's 48 Hours, which recently devoted an entire broadcast to another Colorado case, involving alleged-wife murderer Harold Henthorn, will be doing likewise this Saturday in regard to Ashley's death.
The title of the episode, previewed in a video below: Death After Midnight.
Here's a key passage from the amended complaint, included below in its entirety:
On information and belief, other top-level officials and or other John Doe or Jane Doe Defendants from the Weld County Sheriff’s Department became immediately involved with the case, visited the crime scene or the Evans Police Department, participated in the early review of the same, and/or were involved with the suppression or destruction of evidence.
As for the sheriff's office, a press release states that "on March 19th, 2015, the Weld County Sheriff's Office received new information that a deputy might have material information about the Fallis family investigation that had never been reported.
Marijuana Deals Near You
"When the Weld CountySheriff's Office learned of this new information, an internal investigation was launched," the release continues. "During the internal investigation, three deputies and one supervisor were identified as being directly on scene during the Fallis investigation. One deputy was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation."
At this point, the lead investigating agency is neither the WCSO nor the Evans Police Department. Rather, the Fort Collins Police Department is in charge.
Assorted WCSO personnel are mentioned by name in the amended lawsuit, but the sheriff's office is not identifying the one placed on leave.
Nonetheless, a spokesman for the office stresses transparency during an interview with 7News that's also shared here — although you'll note that there's a brief instant of hesitation before he makes this assertion.
Here's the 7News piece, the 48 Hours preview, the amended complaint and the WCSO letter, followed by our previous coverage.
Original post, 5:56 a.m. March 31: Last November, we told you about the arrest of Tom Fallis, a former police officer who was accused of killing his wife, Ashley Fallis, then making the crime seem as if it had actually been a suicide following an argument about marijuana smoking.
Now, Ashley's parents, Joel Raguindin and Jenna Fox, have reportedly filed a lawsuit against assorted members of the Evans Police Department.
The complaint is said to argue that the law enforcers covered up evidence that a homicide had been committed, allowing Tom to remain free, and in the lives of his children, for years.
As we've reported, the Ashley Fallis Memorial Foundation Facebook page had served as the online home for information about the Fallis family's efforts. Included on it were numerous gorgeous photos of young mom Ashley and her three kids. Here's one example....
Then, in December, following Tom's arrest, a post appeared on the page that reads as follows:
For the safety and respect of the children Ashley's parents have requested to the admins that the Ashley Fallis Memorial Page page be removed. We thank you all for your love and support! This page had been a wonderful way of keeping the community, family and friends updated in the family's fight for ?#?justiceforAshley?!
After that, silence. But then, on Saturday, a message appeared that reads: "Thank you all for your continued support!"
Was this post a signal that something new was about to take place? Perhaps — because 7News notes that a lawsuit has now been filed in federal court.
The defendants named are Evans Police Chief Rick Brandt, being sued in his official capacity, as well as Detective Michael Yates, Sergeant Jason Phipps and commanders Mike Parkos and Patrick Haugse.
Why? First, some background.
In the beginning, as we pointed out, authorities determined that Ashley had killed herself early on January 1, 2012. But the case began to show cracks in 2014, with the big break coming courtesy of Fox31, which raised questions about an Evans police detective suspected of altering evidence in the case.
Specifically, a neighbor said Tom told him he'd killed Ashley — and while the neighbor passed that information along to the detective, the statement didn't appear in arrest reports.
Moreover, the detective is said to have known Tom, a former policeman.
Prosecutors ultimately decided they didn't have enough evidence to charge the detective with covering up a crime. However, the investigation into Ashley's death was reopened, with pressure from Ashley's family, exemplified by the following protest image, undoubtedly playing a part.
Months of investigation later, an indictment was handed down in Tom's name, complete with an account of what prosecutors now believe took place on the fateful night.
The indictment, also shared here, states that Tom and Ashley hosted a New Year's party attended by fifteen to twenty people, including Ashley's parents, plus an aunt and uncle. Then, around 12:30 a.m., Ashley reportedly said she was going to go outside to "have a smoke"
At that point, Tom allegedly "became irate at the belief that she was going to smoke marijuana."
A heated argument followed, and the assorted party attendees left. Then, the indictment maintains, while with Ashley in their bedroom, Tom "obtained a Taurus 9mm handgun, and during the struggle, held the gun to the right side of Ashley's head and pulled the trigger.
"While still in contact with Ashley," the document continues, "he lowered Ashley to the floor, began holding her head, and called 911 to report that Ashley shot herself in the head."
On November 18, Tom was arrested in Bloomington, Indiana, where he'd moved with the couple's kids, prompting this celebratory post on the Ashley Fallis Memorial Foundation Facebook page:
As for the children, a follow-up comment on the page read: "Tom filed a motion to get their rights taken away about a month ago but hopefully judges see through that and the kids will be safe and sound where they belong."
Tom was subsequently transported back to Colorado to stand trial — and the complaint suggests that he would have faced justice much sooner if not for the interference of assorted Evans police reps.
A lawsuit excerpt from 7News reads: "During the investigation, Evans Police Officers ... strained to ignore and knowingly omitted key incriminating witness accounts from their investigation reports, altered witness testimony, and purposely failed to follow standard protocol for a homicide investigation in order to summarily accept fellow law enforcement officer [Tom] Fallis' story that his wife had killed herself.
"On January 6, 2012, less than one week after her death, based on false, altered, and incomplete information provided by Evans Police Department officials, Ashley Fallis’ death was pronounced to be a suicide by the Weld County Coroner’s office," the lawsuit continues.
The lawsuit's version of events includes some highly volatile quotes from Tom, including "Fuck those kids," a claim that Ashley "didn't have a brain in her fucking head" and this statement to family members: "I wish you all would die."
As for the statement overheard by the neighbor, it's quoted as "Oh my God, I can't believe I did it. Oh my God, what have I done? What have I done?"
The neighbor shared these words with Detective Yates, but the lawsuit maintains that Yates failed to report them.
Look below to see the booking photo of Tom Fallis, followed by his indictment, featuring many more details about the accusations against him.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.