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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Denver Safety Manager LaCabe fires 3 cops in 2008 stomping of boy - The Denver Post

Denver Safety Manager LaCabe fires 3 cops in 2008 stomping of boy - The Denver Post

Retiring Denver Safety Manager Al LaCabe left the city in the same fashion as he arrived, clashing with the police union over his disciplinary decisions as he fired three officers in connection with the use of excessive force against a 16-year-old boy.

LaCabe on Tuesday, his second-to-last day in office, fired Charles "Chuck" Porter, Luis Rivera and Cameron Moerman for their involvement in the April 18, 2008, stomping of Juan Vasquez, then 16, who suffered a lacerated liver, injured kidneys and broken ribs after he fled from police.

"I can only tell you that I have reviewed the entire file, looked at every bit of evidence and taken a lot of time to discuss the various recommendations," LaCabe said. "I made a decision which I believe to be the best, given the evidence. However, it was a very difficult case because there are so many contradictions in the evidence."

The police union's president, Mike Mosco, denounced the firings of Rivera and Moerman, which LaCabe said partly was done for their failure to promptly report Porter's stomping of the teen.

Mosco's criticism was a replay of LaCabe's first year in office seven years ago when the two clashed over LaCabe's decision to suspend from the force for 10 months without pay Officer James Turney for shooting and killing a developmentally disabled teenager.

LaCabe's suspension of Turney for the July 5, 2003, shooting death of Paul Childs was the first of many disciplinary decisions made during his tenure that signaled a new get-tough era against police misconduct.

Eventually, LaCabe would go on to overhaul the department's disciplinary system. He replaced a decades-old system that relied on past punishments to guide disciplinary decisions with a new harder-line system that spelled out specific punishments for specific types of infractions.

Firing of 2 cops decried

Mosco similarly decried LaCabe's Tuesday firings of Rivera and Moerman, who testified during a criminal trial that they saw Porter brutalize a teen they all chased. Mosco said the firing of those two likely will make it less likely other officers will testify against their colleagues.

"The attorney who prosecuted that case said the witness officers were very credible, and now they ended up getting terminated," Mosco said. "I'm not sure what thought, if any, went into LaCabe's decision, other than that he came in on a high note in his mind, and now he thinks he's leaving on a high note."

Porter was charged with first-degree felony assault after he was accused of grabbing the top of a fence and using it to get leverage as he jumped repeatedly on the back of Vas quez at the conclusion of a chase involving the officers.

The city of Denver paid $885,000 to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Vasquez, but a Denver jury acquitted Porter of the criminal charge months later. He had been on paid administrative leave from the Denver Police Department since his acquittal in March 2009.

Efforts to reach Vasquez and his attorneys Wednesday were unsuccessful.

LaCabe said part of the reason he decided to fire Rivera and Moerman was that they failed to promptly report Porter's actions.

Mosco said the officers eventually did come forward, and that they did so within the 10-day window they are given under state law. He added that LaCabe also should have taken into account their testimony against their colleague.


BigHeets said...

It's great news to hear that the Denver Police are held accountable for once. Too bad Al LaCabe is retiring. Our state gov. needs to see to it that the next Safety Manager has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and lousy ethics within the Denver Police.
We shouldn't be surprised that Mike Mosco and most other cops and their supervisors feel this is so unfair. Fact: The Denver Police has NEVER felt it must be held at a higher level than the public. Nor does it even feel it needs to be held at ANY level of accountability. The other two officers mentioned deserved to get fired as well. I'll tell you what, do we have the option of waiting 10 days before coming forward for an assault at work?? I didn't think so.....

Anonymous said...

BigHeets and everyone. There is one amazing DA that expects honor in law enforcement. This man is shining example of what each county in every state needs. DA Craig Watkins of Dallas County, TX has established a Conviction Integrity Unit. He expects honor among the criminal investigation fields as well as the courts. He is repulsed by convictions based on the win without any conscience as to how that win is gained. No one who is factually innocent is a victim in Dallas County, TX.