Woman sues Denver police over 2015 collision involving officer

DENVER -- Nearly three years after a Denver police officer was reprimanded for hitting a car on Colfax Avenue, the owner of the vehicle said she still hasn’t been paid a dime. The case is now heading to court.

The collision occurred on Feb. 20, 2015 at the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Washington Street in Denver’s Capitol Hill.

The officer, Rudy Manzanares, ran his 2014 Ford Explorer police vehicle into Linda Bowen’s 1996 Toyota Camry, according to a state crash investigation report.

The Camry was severely and moderately damaged on the passenger side, according to the report.

“I had just paid that car off,” Bowen said.

Bowen, an Air Force veteran, was heading south on Washington when she said Manzanares ran a red light at Colfax without lights or siren engaged.

“He, clearly, couldn’t have been paying attention,” Bowen said.

The Camry was total loss, according to Bowen. She said she still hasn’t been paid after nearly three years of back-and-forth with city lawyers.

Denver is a self-insured municipality. That means city vehicles and drivers are not covered by a private company. Each claim to the city is handled on a case-by-case basis.

A month after the collision, Manzanares was given a written reprimand for a “preventable accident.”

Internal affairs records show he was previously reprimanded for three earlier “preventable accidents” dating back to 2006.

Driving record aside, Manzanares is considered a hero. He and other officers were honored in 2014 with medals of honor for risking their lives under fire during a hostage situation.

“He immediately says to me, the last time I looked, the light was still green,” Bowen said. “And I looked at him, and I’m like, 'Well when was exactly the last time you looked?'”

Bowen said footage captured by city traffic cameras, reviewed by police, back up her story. The case shows Bowen and the city do not agree on the cost of damages.

“I just wanted to get another car,” Bowen said. “I just wanted to move on.”

Bowen works as a massage therapist. She now lives in Florida. She said she suffered neck and shoulder pain and a concussion from the crash.

The past few years have been difficult financially because of lengthy legal proceedings, Bowen said.

The case is scheduled for a jury trial in April, according to Denver County court dockets.

The Denver Police Department was not available on Sunday for comment. The department has previously said it does not typically comment on pending litigation.