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Decision in DPD chief, deputy chief investigations not expected until summer

Posted at 9:31 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-17 00:37:47-05

DENVER -- Denver’s new executive director of public safety tells Denver7 Investigates the long-running investigation into the city’s police chief and deputy chief may not see a resolution until this summer.

In March of 2017, former safety director Stephanie O’Malley called for an independent investigation into the department’s handling of a sexual assault case and a subsequent public records request.

Last week, at a news conference announcing the appointment of O’Malley’s replacement Troy Riggs, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock expressed frustration at the length of the investigation.

A private contractor completed its review of the situation in December. The findings are now being reviewed to determine whether any discipline is warranted.

“Would we have preferred things were handled better? Absolutely,” Hancock told reporters. “I think the chief of police will tell you that, I think the entire department will tell you that.”

The controversy began in January of 2017 when Denver7 Investigates published a letter written by former District Attorney Mitch Morrissey to Chief Robert White that sharply criticized Deputy Chief Matt Murray’s handling of a sexual assault case in which two people were arrested but never charged. 

Morrissey’s letter claimed DPD, under Murray’s guidance, ignored long-standing protocol and rushed to arrest Angiella Arnot without reviewing evidence the DA believed proved her innocence. The police union submitted a public records request to DPD requesting a copy of Morrissey’s letter, but DPD twice failed to produce it.

Morrissey, Arnot, and the union’s president all say they are fed up with the length of independent review.

“I think it's been a cover up. I think they're trying to just drag it on,” Arnot told Denver7.

“I've seen double homicides where two people were murdered that didn't take this much time to come to a resolution,” Morrissey said. “I think the people of Denver deserve better.”

“I know that both of these individuals -- Chief White and Chief Murray -- should be fired for what they did,” Police Protective Association president Nick Rogers said.

Murray told Denver7 Investigates last year he and the department did nothing wrong. District Attorney Beth McCann reviewed the case for potential criminal charges for violations of the state’s open records act. She determined White and Murray handled the records request carelessly, but no crimes were committed.

Riggs told Denver7 he can’t comment on the findings of the independent review but expects it will wrap up sometime this summer.