Denver officer caught driving 143 mph while drunk fired again

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DENVER — First he was caught driving 143 mph while ability impaired. Then he was fired. Then he won an appeal and was reinstated.

After a “final” ruling from the Denver Civil Service Commission Wednesday resulted in a decision to effectively re-fire Derrick Saunders, it appears the long-running saga involving the now-former Denver police officer has finally come to an end.

Saunders was initially arrested on June 17, 2010 for driving 143 mph in a 55-mph zone on Gun Club Road in Arapahoe County while he was off-duty. The arresting officer also issued a DWAI citation, and Saunders pleaded guilty to that charge and reckless driving.

Following the plea, Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez made the decision to terminate Saunders in December 2011. Saunders appealed that decision, and the Civil Service Commission ruled in May 2012 that Martinez had incorrectly classified Saunders’ offenses and had arrived at an “inappropriate penalty.”

Therefore, Saunders’ termination was changed to a suspension and he was reinstated.

Martinez then appealed the appeal. And it was the second appeal that led the Commission to its “decision and final order” reached on Wednesday — the one that appears likely to permanently relieve Saunders of his duties as a Denver police officer.

“Upon review of the record from the hearing, and after a full briefing on the issues by the parties, the Commissioners concluded that the Manager of Safety’s classification of the conduct … was justified and proper,” the Commission wrote in its decision.

“The Commissioners therefore … reinstated the manager of Safety’s termination of officer Saunders.”