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DENVER -- A letter written by the longtime former Denver district attorney says a Denver Police Department deputy chief ignored longstanding protocol and rushed a "completely unwarranted" arrest of an innocent woman who had been implicated in a sexual assault case involving a Denver police officer.
Charges against the woman, Angiella Arnot, and the now-former officer, David Munk, were never filed. The case stems from a sexual assault investigation conducted in the spring of 2016.
Investigators never released details of the case. The case file was also sealed. However, Arnot was held on multiple felony counts of sexual assault.
Mitch Morrissey, who was term-limited and vacated the district attorney's office earlier this month, spoke exclusively with Denver7 chief investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski late last week.
"If you Google it today, if you Google that officer's name or her name, it's going to come up that she got arrested for a sexual assault and that's wrong. That's just flat-out wrong," Morrissey said.
His comments came after Denver7 Investigates obtained a letter he wrote to Denver Police Chief Robert White in May to express concern about Deputy Chief Matt Murray's "direction of the investigation."
"The information that exonerated Ms. Arnot was in the hands of DPD detectives from the beginning of the investigation; the data needed only to be downloaded from the [sexual assault] victim's cell phone," Morrissey wrote, in part. "Had Deputy Chief Murray not rushed to judgment, and instead directed investigators to wait for that information prior to arresting Mr. Arnot, he would have realized her arrest was completely unwarranted. Deputy Chief Murray then added insult to injury by allowing a press release regarding Ms. Arnot's arrest, subjecting her to public ridicule and embarrassment."
In an interview with Denver7 Investigates, Murray fought back against many of the claims in the letter, pointing out that while was involved in the initial investigation of Munk, he was actually out of town when police made the decision to arrest Arnot.
"Unfortunately he did not bother to get the facts before he wrote the letter and that gives me reason to question the entire tone and nature of the letter because this is incredibly factually inaccurate," Murray said.
Morrissey also told White that Deputy Chief Murray never contacted his office's designated on-call deputy DA prior to Arnot's arrest. According to the letter, it's policy for Denver police to notify the Denver District Attorney's Office of "serious investigations." Morrissey said the policy has been in place for more than 30 years.
Murray said when police learned of the allegations against Munk, they reached out to the deputy district attorney who specializes in internal affairs issues, but he was sick and unable to help.
"What I did do was call a chief deputy district attorney who has extensive experience in sexual assault investigations. She happened to be sitting at her desk and was willing to come help us," Murray told Denver7.
Morrissey said he was actually serving as the on-call prosecutor that night and he should have been the one who got the call from police.
"I'm not bound by the district attorney's protocol for on call. But if that's the great error here, then you have my apologies," Murray said.
Morrissey said he confronted Murray about the situation and said his attitude was "cavalier," according to the letter.
"His lack of concern for the needless arrest of Ms. Arnot, and the subsequent publicity, was astounding," Morrissey wrote.
"[W]e shouldn't put somebody in jail when we know full well that we're never going to be able to charge them," Morrissey said in his interview with Kovaleski. "And in this situation, all they had to do is look into that cell phone. They had permission to do it. They had the code to do it and they didn't do it."
Murray countered that technical challenges prevented police from looking at the phone right away. But he said police did not do anything wrong.
"Charges were never filed against Ms. Arnot. Should she have been arrested?" Kovaleski asked Murray.
"Yes, with the information that we had at the time, and again I wasn't present, I wasn't directing it," Murray said. "I think one of the things that's really important that people understand is there cannot be a double standard. The public demands that we treat police officers and their accomplices the same as we would treat anyone else."
Murray said the woman who approached police with the sexual assault allegations against Munk and Arnot made several statements that were corroborated with evidence.
"I will tell you, to this day, I don't know if there was a sexual assault or not," Murray said. "What I know is, several days into the investigation, some information that was on her phone came to light which caused the district attorney to take pause and believe they couldn't proceed with a case."
Angeilla Arnot told Denver7 Investigates in an exclusive interview that the arrest "wrecked her life."
"I always believed in our system and this makes me not. I thought that when anything happened it's supposed to be you are innocent until proven guilty and they basically said I was guilty from day one," Arnot said.
Denver7 will continue to follow this story and report new information as it develops.