District attorney takes case of biased officer very seriously
By Pete Hautzinger
As district attorney, I represent the people of the state of Colorado, more specifically, those residents of Mesa County. In the wake of the recent revelations concerning a Colorado State Patrol internal affairs investigation into the actions of former Trooper Donald Moseman in DUI arrests and investigations, I have asked the Daily Sentinel to give me an opportunity to write to you.
I want to explain what I, as your legal representative, am doing to ensure justice is being served in all respects. There are many aspects of this situation that are confidential and legally protected personnel matters, but I want to share as much as I am legally allowed to about where things stand.
✔ No decisions have been made about criminal charges against Moseman.
To date, the only thing I have seen in writing concerning the internal investigation is the letter from CSP Major Barry Bratt, which I made public last week. My office is in the very early stages of analyzing all cases submitted to us over the years for prosecution by Moseman.
As I told The Daily Sentinel last week, I have not yet seen anything meriting criminal charges against Moseman. While that statement is still true, that may change during our review of the cases and when the full information is presented to us.
✔ I will not hesitate to file criminal charges should I have evidence likely to convince a Mesa County jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
The standard I apply in deciding if criminal charges should be filed is the same for all persons: Do I have a reasonable likelihood of convincing a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed?
Police officers who break criminal laws need to be held accountable for their actions. Over the past seven years of my administration there are multiple examples of my office pursuing criminal charges against current or former law enforcement officials who we believe have broken the law (including some cases currently being prosecuted). The situation involving Moseman will be addressed in the exact same way.
✔ There is a strong system of checks and balances in our criminal justice system and that system worked here.
This situation was brought to light in the first place by the fact that my line prosecutors saw a number of cases where the chemical test did not appear to match up with other aspects of the reported investigation. The case reported in the Sentinel Dec. 10 is a perfect example. While it appears Moseman made an arrest he should not have, the criminal prosecution was unilaterally dismissed by my office due to a lack of evidence. We did so on Sept. 26 of this year, long before we learned facts about Moseman’s DUI bias.
It was cases like this that concerned my office in the first place and caused us to convey those concerns to the State Patrol. The CSP conducted a rapid and thorough internal investigation that was turned over to my office quickly. We have thus been able to take steps to address whatever injustices may have taken place.
✔ I have yet to find an instance where an “innocent” person was prosecuted and convicted due to Moseman’s misconduct.
My office has, to date, looked at many cases where Moseman was the arresting officer. Thus far, every case we have reviewed that resulted in conviction was supported by evidence independent of Moseman; usually a chemical test showing that the defendant did, in fact, have an illegally high level of alcohol in his or her system while driving a motor vehicle.
We have recently unilaterally dismissed a number of pending cases where Moseman would have been the most important prosecution witness. As noted above, we have earlier dismissed a number of cases where the chemical test did not match up with the arrest.
I’d like to conclude by assuring the people of Mesa County that this alarming and disturbing situation is being taken very seriously by their D.A.‘s office. Indeed, all of law enforcement for our community has worked together to do everything possible to ensure this is strongly investigated, strongly prosecuted and strongly learned from. I’ve learned over the years that I can never guarantee what will happen in the world of crime and punishment, but I will do everything in my power to ensure these issues will never happen again in Mesa County.
Pete Hautzinger is the District Attorney for Mesa County.