2nd cop resigns in pepper spray probe

A Grand Junction police officer who was among a group of officers under an internal investigation focusing on misuse of pepper spray resigned Friday, ending a probe into how police use the weapon in connection with transients.

In an e-mail to The Daily Sentinel, Police Chief John Camper said the officer resigned for personal reasons before Camper reached a disposition on the officer’s role in a “minor” pepper spray incident.

Camper said although the officer was among a group of officers who had been interviewed regarding his knowledge or role in the incident, the officer had been on paid administrative leave for unrelated reasons.

A total of four officers were questioned in connection with the investigation. A second officer resigned in early July, while two others received reprimands. Police declined to identify the officers.

Earlier this week, Camper said the investigation showed the Police Department didn’t sanction pepper-spray use on transient locations. The investigation did, however, confirm at least one incident in which a patrol officer emptied his pepper-spray canister on the interior of an abandoned Grand Junction building used by transients.

According to Camper, the officer told the internal investigation he used the defensive weapon to try to convince transients not to return to the building.

The investigation started after former officers Joseph Mulcahy, Justin Roberts and Phillip Van Why implicated specific colleagues as using pepper spray on a variety of property belonging to transients.

Camper fired the three officers after a separate internal investigation confirmed they cut tents and caused other damage at a transient camp May 3 while searching for a suspect in a theft investigation.

The trio’s claims prompted Camper and police administration to issue a department-wide order in June instructing officers to use pepper spray for no purpose other than as a defensive weapon.


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