CONTACT: Lindy Eichenbaum Lent
email@example.comMayor, Manager of Safety, and City Attorney Issue Statements Regarding Ruling on Officer Turney's Appeal
(DENVER) The City Attorney’s Office received on Thursday afternoon Civil Service Commission Hearing Officer John A. Criswell’s ruling on Officer James Turney’s disciplinary appeal. The ruling reduced the 10-month suspension issued by Manager of Safety Al LaCabe in April 2004 to a five-day suspension plus a one-day fine. LaCabe disciplined Turney in connection with the deadly shooting of Paul Childs on July 5, 2003, and for threatening his former mother-in-law on July 4, 2003.
“We are reviewing the Hearing Officer’s extensive opinion and weighing our legal options, including a possible appeal,” said City Attorney Cole Finegan.
The City and County of Denver has 15 calendar days to appeal this ruling to the full Civil Service Commission or 30 calendar days to appeal to District Court.
On page 37 of the ruling, Hearing Officer Criswell states that although “the ideal tactic…might have been to close the security door…I am convinced that no reasonable Denver police officer with Officer Turney’s training and background would have thought of this tactic.”
“With more than three decades of experience as a police officer, detective, investigator, prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney, I respectfully disagree with the Hearing Officer’s finding that ‘no reasonable Denver police officer with Officer Turney’s training and background’ would have closed the door and moved away,” said Manager of Safety Al LaCabe. “I also disagree that Officer Turney was not on notice that his tactical errors were subject to discipline, but I am pleased that the decision makes clear that our new Use of Force Policy reinforces that officers can be disciplined for tactical decisions inconsistent with their training.”
On page 44 of Thursday’s ruling, Hearing Officer Criswell concluded that Manager of Safety Al LaCabe’s decision was based on what LaCabe “viewed as the best policy for the [Police] Department and for the citizens of Denver,” rather than public or political pressure.
On page 43 of the decision, Hearing Officer Criswell stated he is “satisfied” that the new Use of Force Policy, announced by this administration in June 2004, “does put all Denver police officers on notice that, in the future, if their tactical decisions are inconsistent with their prior training, they may be disciplined” ensuring that, in the future, the Police Chief and Manager of Safety “will not be lacking for an adequate basis for the imposition of discipline for faulty tactical decisions resulting in the use of deadly force.”
“Paul Childs’ shooting was a tragedy for this city,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper. “I have enormous confidence in Al LaCabe and his judgment in this matter. I am disappointed by the Hearing Officer’s conclusions, and I have asked the City Attorney’s Office to analyze the opinion and recommend the best course of action for the City. One thing is clear: we will never be dissuaded in our efforts to make Denver’s citizens and police officers as safe as possible. We have made enormous progress over the past 18 months to reform our public safety system and improve its accountability, and we will not let today’s ruling set us back.”
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