Aurora police lieutenant retires after suspicious crash, but chief won’t take questions

Problem Solvers

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Aurora police chief reneged on a promise to answer questions about the departure of a high-ranking officer, who crashed a city-issued vehicle and admitted to drinking beer before it happened.

A spokesman for the Aurora Police Department told the Problem Solvers that Chief Vanessa Wilson would talk once the investigation into Lt. Martin Garland was over.

The investigation into Garland officially ended Tuesday, Dec. 28, when Garland chose to retire rather than face termination for a case the Problem Solvers first inquired about on Dec. 1.

But instead of being willing to answer questions, the department emailed this investigative reporter on Dec. 29, simply stating, “We will not be providing any on-camera interviews regarding this matter.”

Lieutenant crashed vehicle after drinking with body camera vendors

The matter begin Friday, Oct. 22, when Garland crashed his city-assigned, unmarked car into something while driving home from a meeting with body-camera vendors.

According to an internal affairs report obtained by the Problem Solvers, “During that meeting, he admitted to internal affairs investigators that he had consumed 2 to 4 beers. He denied that he had sustained any impairment from drinking.”

Lt. Martin Garland-Retired in lieu of termination

Garland self-reported the accident on Saturday, Oct. 23, telling an officer who responded to his home that he might have side-swiped someone Friday evening but didn’t notice any damage until Saturday morning.

The Problem Solvers obtained the responding officer’s body cam video, where Garland can be heard saying, “I was distracted on the way home last night. I was fighting with my wife ’cause she was not happy that I was not home yesterday. It’s my normal day off.”

Because Garland waited until the following morning to self-report his crash, the report notes there was no way to test his blood-alcohol level.

In the body cam video, Garland tells the officer:

  • Garland: “I’m thinking I might have clipped somebody on Colfax Avenue.”
  • Officer: “Do you remember where on Colfax?”
  • Garland: “Probably around the Fox Theater area.”

Investigators found Garland’s story impossible to confirm, despite conducting a records search and contacting surrounding agencies to see if his car might have been involved in a hit-and-run crash along Colfax Avenue.

No discipline against officer until Problem Solvers inquiry

Still, internal affairs did not bring Garland’s city-assigned vehicle in for repairs until Dec. 1, the day the Problem Solvers asked if he was still on active duty and still driving his damaged car, despite being under investigation for damaging it.

Hours after the Problem Solvers inquired, Garland was placed on paid investigative leave, no longer allowed to drive city vehicles.

When Chief Wilson declined a FOX31 interview request on Dec. 2, her spokesperson emailed the Problem Solvers, “She has never shied away from giving interviews regarding these topics and will be more than happy to discuss this case once the investigation is complete.”

But now that the investigation is complete, the department has said there will be no interview and did not respond to a question asking why Wilson was going back on a commitment to be transparent.

The internal affairs Investigation “found Lieutenant Garland’s statements to be inconsistent, incomplete and did not correlate with the amount of damage found…$5,799 dollars. It is believed that he was untruthful and/or failed to disclose full knowledge of what occurred.”

The internal affairs report goes on to state that had Garland not retired on Dec. 28, he would have been terminated. The report adds that the incident will be reported to the Colorado Department of Law and Peace Officers Standards and Training Board — known as P.O.S.T. — in accordance with Senate Bill 19-166.

The law revokes the P.O.S.T. certification of an officer who knowingly made an untruthful statement, including during an internal affairs investigation.

A new state database shows the certification status of police officers in Colorado. As of Tuesday, the site showed Garland was still certified.

Garland joined the Aurora Police Department in 1999 and his last assignment was as commanding officer of the Electronic Support Section.

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