DENVER (KDVR) — Three Denver police officers were suspended for making a “pattern of mistakes” during a domestic violence investigation that prevented the district attorney’s office from prosecuting the case.
Officer Jessica Thomas and Officer Jonathan Hayes received 10-day suspensions and Cpl. Brendan Simmons received a 14-day suspension after each was accused of making “investigatory missteps that demonstrated carelessness and a lack of sound judgment” during a domestic violence case in which a suspect was accused of firing a gun inside a home, according to disciplinary records obtained by the FOX31 Problem Solvers.
Simmons, according to the records, is “considered a supervisor” and was the senior officer on the scene.
“The department has higher expectations for supervisors,” said the disciplinary note, signed by Mary Dulacki, the chief deputy executive officer of the Denver Public Safety department.
According to the disciplinary records, the officers responded to a domestic violence call on the 2700 block of Walnut Street on Feb. 21, 2021.
The victim reported that her “her boyfriend…fired a gun inside the apartment,” but officers did not enter the home and confront the suspect for more than an hour and 20 minutes, according to the departmental order of disciplinary action.
The girlfriend told the officers that her boyfriend “owns several guns and that she was concerned for his safety,” however, officers did not find any evidence of a shooting and allowed the girlfriend to leave the scene without completing a full written statement.
The boyfriend, who was found to be intoxicated in the presence of several loaded magazines, a rifle, and a handgun, was taken to detox.
According to the discipline records, the officers failed to take “adequate action after receiving credible information from a victim that her intoxicated boyfriend fired a gun inside an apartment and failing to conduct a thorough search of the apartment for a bullet hole.”
Officer Hayes told internal affairs investigators that he did do a sweep around the area “to look for any obvious signs of a gun being shot and/or anyone else…we looked around, didn’t see any other obvious damage, didn’t see any bullet holes. I checked outside to make sure that he possibly shot a round outside.”
The following day, the girlfriend found a bullet hole in the bathroom, where she had been getting ready. “My concern is that I was in the bathroom at the time, and I believe he was attempting to aim at me,” she later told one of the officers in an email.
When investigators returned to the scene several days later, they seized a handgun and took photographs of the bathroom bullet hole, but the district attorney declined to prosecute the case saying that the suspect “had an opportunity to manipulate the hole in the bathroom tile and the fact that [he] was taken to detox would give rise to reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind,” the records say.
“Corporal Simmons’ lack of care directly resulted in the (District Attorney) refusing to file charges against (the suspect), a case involving a firearm. (The reporting party) was unable to seek justice for the incident and this misconduct undermined the (Denver Police Department’s) relationship with the Denver DA’s Office,” the disciplinary records said.
Simmons told internal affairs investigators that based off the girlfriend’s initial statement, “she denied, you know, actually knowing it was a gunshot. The only information that was given was that she heard a loud bang from the bathroom and that he was in the living room. And she couldn’t confirm or deny that it was a firearm.”