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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Deputy Quit After Lie

A Denver sheriff's deputy resigned after she lied about making required rounds in the jail wing where Emily Rae Rice died in 2006, said a report released Monday from the independent monitor's office.

The report from Richard Rosenthal said that if the deputy had not resigned, he would have recommended firing her.

"The integrity of internal affairs investigations should be considered sacrosanct," the report said.

"A deputy who fails to accept responsibility for his or her actions by making false statements to internal affairs should realize that termination is a reasonable response on the part of the department," according to the report.

Police reports have described a chaotic scene the night of Rice's death.

Inmates told investigators that their fellow prisoner, Rice, who had been booked on suspicion of drunken driving, cried for help for hours in her jail cell before she died.

Rice, 24, was booked into the Denver jail on Feb. 18, 2006, after a car crash. She was taken by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center, where she was examined and then sent to jail.

Rosenthal, whose office oversees internal police and sheriff's investigations, did not release the name of the sheriff's deputy, who resigned in November — on the day her disciplinary hearing was scheduled to take place.

Rosenthal noted that the deputy had previous disciplinary problems pending when she resigned. He did not detail those problems.

Darold Killmer, a lawyer for the Rice family, identified the deputy who resigned as Lakisha Minter. She could not be reached for comment.

Video was inconclusive

Rosenthal's report said gaps in the video footage from jail video cameras the night of the death stemmed from technology problems rather than deliberate tampering.

"As a result of the system's failures, the investigation was unable to conclusively establish when and where rounds were conducted," the report stated.

The report said the video failures made it impossible to prove or disprove misconduct by seven additional deputies in addition to the four deputies who were disciplined.

In addition to the deputy who resigned, two deputies were suspended for three days and another deputy received a "cautionary letter."

The city identified those who received three-day suspensions as deputies Amanda Line and Julie Kirkbride, who could not be reached.

One suspension was for documenting but failing to conduct one round. Another involved documenting but failing to conduct two rounds and failing to notify the staff of the need to examine Rice.

The Rice family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Denver Health.

Family critical of report

Rice's mother, Sue Garber, blasted the report from Rosenthal's office.

"I believe it was done to defend the city and not to answer the people," she said of Rosenthal's report.

Killmer said Rosenthal "doesn't want to say anything that will upset his employer, which is the city of Denver. The only time he takes a tough stand is against the one employee who left."

Killmer and Garber said they believe deliberate tampering occurred of the video monitoring system.

Rosenthal said in the report that in November the city made technological improvements in how the city ensures deputies are making their required rounds.

The city is phasing out Digatron Inc., the vendor of the monitoring system, for a new vendor, Rosenthal said.

The new system installed in November requires deputies to pass a wand over an electronic monitor when they finish a round to ensure the required rounds are completed, he said.

Greg Anthony, the chief executive officer of Digatron, denied that software or hardware issues caused the gaps in video monitoring.

"Maybe they didn't set the program right," Anthony said. "Maybe they edited it and deleted the video, I don't know. A computer does what it is told to do."

Rosenthal defended his report.

"Obviously, I can't satisfy everyone, but my job is to be objective and fair," he said.

The Denver post


Anonymous said...

this whole story regarding police internal affairs and the discipline of officers is a dam joke. A woman died laying on the floor of a jail cell after hours of crying out for help. It is my opinion that the guy, Rosenthal should be fired for watering down a very serious jail operation All the people on that shift should be fired and especially whomever was the supervisor of that group who were in charge of the jail during Ms. Rices being brought in and her death. All the officials who are and have coddeled this gruesome story need to get a job riding the back of a garbage truck.

Anonymous said...