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Denver police chief will not be punished for failing to turn over letter

DENVER -- Mayor Michael Hancock said Monday that Denver police Chief Robert White will not be disciplined after reviewing two cases.

One of the cases involved an accident in which White was the victim of a hit-and-run driver in September. The accident happened near East 16th Avenue and Willow Street.

The suspect continued driving from the scene and White made a U-turn to follow the suspect, who then hit another vehicle at East 16th Avenue and Yosemite Street.

White allegedly joked to the Aurora Police Department about the slow response of Denver officers to the scene.

White was investigated for possibly violating Denver’s pursuit policy, especially because he was off-duty at the time.

Hancock cleared White of violating polices in that case and for another case related to an open records response in May 2016.

"The questions in front of me were straightforward: Did the chief willingly withhold records from an open records request for a letter, should he have opened an investigation into the concerns expressed in that letter, and did he violate department policies? Based on the information I received, the answers to these questions are no," Hancock wrote in a letter to the police department.

White and Deputy Chief Matt Murray are accused of failing to turn over a letter to the Denver Police Protective Association in 2016.

The letter, written by then-Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, criticized the arrests of Denver police officer Davin Munk and metro-area woman Angiella Arnot for an alleged sex crime that the Denver District Attorney's Office felt didn't occur.

Hancock issued a five-page letter Monday morning outlining his administrative review of White’s conduct.

“It does not appear that Chief White knowingly or intentionally withheld documents from the public,” Hancock said. “However, poor communication and unwritten, internal practices allowed the request to be responded to inaccurately.”

“Appalled would be an understatement,” said former officer Davin Munk, who was forced to resign after he was falsely arrested and is furious Hancock found no wrongdoing.

It was a similar response from Arnot.

“I’m completely disappointed in the mayor, Chief White, Deputy Chief Murray," she said.

Arnot said the mayor’s decision means no accountability.

“My life has been turned upside down by this whole thing,” Arnot said. “I have PTSD from the whole thing. I take medication.”

Lisa Calderon of the Colorado Latino Forum is a frequent critic of the Hancock administration and said the mayor’s decision to find no wrongdoing only fuels her frustration.

“There's no surprise," she said. "The question was what was the justification going to be to clear Chief White and it seems like the justification is blame the records person, blame the deputy chief, but absolutely no accountability for Chief White.”

Mary Dodge, a criminology professor for the University of Colorado-Denver, said she too is troubled by the mayor’s findings.

“Perhaps it doesn't rise to criminal, but it certainly rises to unethical behavior," she said.

Hancock and White declined interview requests.

“My integrity and the trust the community places in me as its chief means everything and both have been called into question as I awaited resolution of these cases," White said in a statement.

"Although I was confident the facts would ultimately support no wrongdoing on my part, stories void of these important facts have impugned my reputation for more than a year.

"It has been a difficult time for the members of the Denver Police Department, my family, and quite frankly, for me personally.

"While I recognize I could have handled certain aspects of each case differently, I look forward to putting these incidents behind me and the department as we continue to focus on the important work of protecting and serving the community.“

Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, released a statement highly critical of the mayor’s findings.

The DPPA is very disappointed to have just learned Mayor Hancock has decided Chief White’s actions in his TWO SEPARATE INTERNAL AFFAIRS COMPLAINTS did not rise to the level of discipline. As the person who filed the open records request complaint and knowing ALL the facts of that complaint, we summarily reject this absurd decision. Not only were both Chief Robert White and Deputy Chief Matt Murray misleading during the investigation, but they conspired to withhold a letter written by District Attorney Mitch Morrisey that clearly called into question Deputy Chief Murray’s decision-making abilities. The DPPA is now tasked with explaining to the other 1,500 honorable and honest Denver Police officers how they move forward.