DENVER — He might never get the apology he’s seeking, but Steven Talley is no longer facing a bank robbery charge.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case Thursday morning, three months after the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers first revealed serious problems with the case.
Now Talley and his attorney Ben Hartford say the city of Denver and its police department can expect a federal lawsuit over what they call his wrongful arrest, not once but twice.
“Still haven’t gotten an apology. They know they got the wrong guy the first time. I still haven’t even gotten a simple apology,” Talley said.
The 45-year-old was first arrested in September 2014 for robbing two US Banks, based on surveillance video images shown to his ex-wife and two former roommates. But in November 2014, both cases were dismissed after Talley produced an air-tight alibi for the first robbery.
A year later, Talley was rearrested on the second robbery based on FBI facial recognition technology, even though the enhanced video shows a suspect without a mole on his right cheek, something Talley definitely has.
“Seems almost irrefutable proof that I’m not the guy,” Talley said.
Even more damning to the prosecutor’s case was the testimony of bank teller Bonita Shipp at the preliminary hearing.
“He was an innocent man, he didn’t do it,” Shipp said.
Shipp admits she originally identified Talley as the bank robber to an 85 percent certainty, based on a photo lineup. But she quickly recanted after she was allowed to watch the surveillance video and testified in court that Talley’s hands didn’t match the hands of the bank robber.
“He had worn surgical gloves, which you could see through the gloves and you could see that he had marks like moles or brown spots on his hands,” Shipp said.
But even after Shipp’s testimony in January, prosecutors did not dismiss the second bank robbery charge. Instead, they sought an FBI height analysis that compared Talley to the suspect seen in the surveillance video.
The FBI report came back in March and suggested Talley was 3 inches too tall to be the suspect.
“If someone is 6-foot 3 1/2 and they’re saying (the robbery suspect) is 6-foot- and 1/2, I don`t know how that could be me,” Talley said.
But it would still take prosecutors another six weeks to dismiss the case.
“Legal system is extremely slow for someone in my position where I’m living day to day. It’s just pathetic. I don’t wish it upon anybody,” Talley said.
Defense attorney Ben Hartford said his client should never have been arrested once, let alone twice.
“I’ll say till I go to my grave: Steve Talley is an innocent man,” Hartford said.
Neither the Denver Police Department nor the Denver District Attorney’s Office is offering an apology to Talley, even though the case has left the former mutual fund worker homeless and jobless.
“Destroyed my life, destroyed my family. I haven`t seen my kids. Destroyed my career, destroyed my health, almost killed me. So what did it not do? And I’m still living like this, living on the streets,” Talley said.
“The Denver Police Department has an obligation to investigate all criminal activity,” police said in a statement. “Members of the department then present the findings to the Denver District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s Office then determines if charges are warranted, such was the case with the US Bank robberies. Any complaints regarding the investigation can be filed with Denver Police Internal Affairs or the Office of the Independent Monitor.”
A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office would not say if prosecutors believe Talley is innocent, only that prosecutors felt they could not meet their burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.