‘Brady cop’ tag for King

Dishonesty label may be downfall, but not necessarily

Sen. Steve King



“A Brady issue is now ... a career blow. Possibly a blow to two careers.”

That, from former Fruita police officer Jared Wright in 2012, who went on to get elected and serve Colorado’s House District 54 after his firing from the police department during an internal affairs investigation. Wright pleaded with his boss not to notify Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger of a sustained finding of dishonesty, while expressing concern about attention that may come for a “Brady cop running for political office.”

Wright’s concern is now an issue for Republican Mesa County Sheriff nominee Steve King, who Mesa County Sheriff Rebecca Spiess has said will be the subject of a Brady letter sent to Hautzinger.

Named for the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are required to provide notice to defense attorneys of sustained misconduct findings against police officers, allowing for impeachment of those officers on the witness stand.

Hautzinger on Wednesday declined comment on King’s internal affairs woes. He said he hasn’t seen Spiess’ letter.

“Our practice has been when we receive a Brady letter from a law enforcement agency, we will put that out (to defense lawyers) in discovery on every case where that individual is an endorsed witness,” Hautzinger said.

That notice essentially says there may be exculpatory evidence in the officer’s personnel file, he said.

The records at issue can be obtained through subpoena, or, a judge can review personnel files “in camera,” or in private, for anything that may be considered exculpatory.

“It’s a bell that’s hard to un-ring,” Hautzinger said of a Brady cop label. “It’s a big deal, no question, but it’s not necessarily fatal for the cases they are witnesses in.”

A Brady letter isn’t always fatal to a cop’s career, either.

“There are multiple, multiple examples since I’ve been in this office of sustained findings of dishonesty by an officer where a Brady letter was generated and went out to defense counsel,” Hautzinger said. “They’ve (officers) stayed on the force but they’ve been questioned on cross-examination about that issue probably a dozen times.”

That’s true for “more than five, less than 10,” officers locally during his tenure, Hautzinger said.

King is not an endorsed witness on any active Mesa County case, he said, but that may change soon. Hautzinger’s office is pondering a retrial of 51-year-old Michael Blagg in the November 2001 death of his wife. As he was in 2004, King may be called as a witness, as he worked as a Sheriff’s Office investigator heavily involved in the Blagg investigation.

Internal affairs records provided Tuesday to The Daily Sentinel under the Colorado Open Records Act show King was found to have falsified at least one timecard this past May while working in a temporary capacity, aside from violating five code-of-conduct standards.

King was fired by former sheriff Stan Hilkey on June 6, 18 days before Tuesday’s primary election.


COMMENTS

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Not Freida Cook - Am a relative - Patrick Rodgers - Since municipal government time sheets are normaly reviewed and approved by a supervisor, who in the Sheriff’s Department had the responsibility for approving King’s time card to assure it was correct.  Had that person been doing their job, questions should have been raised about the hours and either justified or deleted from the card before it was submitted and paid? 

If I were a voter, I would want to know in my mind before voting “Yea” or “Nay” if the time card error was intentional or unintentional.  That intent or lack thereof goes a long way in documenting the honesty and integrity of Steve King.  If the Internal Affairs Investigation was done properly, intent should have been documented and served as justification for sustaining the charge of timecard falsification.  A possible criminal charge for Fraud might also have been considered?  If intent could not be proven, the charge would not be sustained and have been handled as an unintentional error by King. 

As I recall from the media coverage, King was terminated for insubordination, due to his dealings with the Sheriff and not for fraudulent submission of a timecard. That leaves questions to be answered by both the Sheriff and Steve King.  For the sake of all involved and most importantly the citizens of Mesa County, this matter needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. As Fox Mulder from the “X Files” used to say, “The truth is out there.”

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