DENVER (KDVR) — Denver will pay a settlement to a former sheriff’s internal affairs investigator who tipped off the Problem Solvers to what she considered a cover-up by city leaders.
The City of Denver has agreed to settle with the whistleblower, Brittany Iriart, for $175,000.
Iriart was fired by the Department of Public Safety last October after tipping off the Problem Solvers.
The city would later pay Iriart six weeks of salary — $9,300 dollars — and reclassify her termination to resignation when she agreed to drop her employment appeal.
The recent $175,000 legal settlement avoids a lawsuit Iriart had considered filing after she said she was forced out for being a whistleblower.
“Denver lied to the media, they attacked my character, they conducted a sham HR investigation and essentially ruined my career just to deflect from their own misconduct,” Iriart said.
Deputy’s firing reversed
Iriart originally tipped off the Problem Solvers in May of 2020 to the story of a deputy caught on video punching a handcuffed inmate, who was in a wheelchair and had just spit in the deputy’s direction.
“It was a strike, everybody that watched the video in my office said it was a strike, all of upper management said it was a strike. It was never in question until after the disciplinary hearing,” Iriart said.
The disciplinary hearing is when city leaders reversed the original recommendation to fire Deputy Jason Gentempo, who was accused in the incident.
The Conduct Review Unit inside the Department of Safety initially determined Gentempo should be fired — not for the punch, but for lying about the punch to Iriart during his interview with her during the internal affairs investigation.
Video from the tape-recorded interview showed Gentempo reviewing the surveillance video from Denver Health Medical Center insisting, “It was not a strike.”
Iriart responded, “How do you say that’s not a strike?” and Gentempo responds on the recorded video, “Because I didn’t hit him. I did not his face. I did not injure him whatsoever.”
After the Department of Public Safety exonerated Gentempo, Iriart tipped off the Problem Solvers to the surveillance video and the internal affairs report, both of which are public records.
Denver’s whistleblower law did not provide protections
The City of Denver originally fired Iriart for providing information it considered confidential.
Iriart’s attorney, Andy McNulty, told the Problem Solvers the city clearly retaliated against Iriart for being a whistleblower.
“This is a case where they knew they had a system of cover-up instead of a system of investigation, and Brittany had exposed that they didn’t want that to come out,” said McNulty.
McNulty added that the city’s whistleblower ordinance provided no level of protection to Iriart, calling it “a statute on the books that’s just a mere piece of paper that doesn’t do anything, that doesn’t give you any rights, does nothing for people who want to step forward and expose corruption within the city’s government.”
After Iriart was forced out of the Administrative Investigations Unit, the Problem Solvers obtained through a public records request new confidentiality forms that internal affairs investigators must now sign as a condition of employment.
“Doesn’t surprise me, because again, they don’t want people to speak up. They want to scare people into silence, Iriart said.
Denver’s Department of Public Safety declined to provide any comment to FOX31 for this story.