Officer’s widow sues police, sheriff over suicide
The widow of Grand Junction officer Glenn Coyne claims in a federal lawsuit that investigators had doubts about sexual assault allegations against her husband, but moved forward with a criminal case anyway.
Michelle Coyne, now a Florida resident, alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver that local authorities are responsible for her husband’s suicide, which happened five days after Coyne’s arrest and firing on Oct. 1, 2009.
“Without appropriate investigation they (Grand Junction Police Department and Mesa County Sheriff’s Department) charged Officer Coyne with serious crimes on evidence they believed to be false,” reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names Police Chief John Camper, the department and city, as well as Sheriff Stan Hilkey, the sheriff’s department, two investigators involved in Glenn Coyne’s case, and Coyne’s alleged victim.
Among six claims, the lawsuit seeks monetary damages for wrongful death.
Camper and Hilkey Tuesday said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
In the lawsuit, Michelle Coyne claims her husband’s alleged rape victim on several occasions “suggested by words and actions” she was attracted to the officer, and the two engaged in sex that was consensual at the woman’s home after midnight Sept. 29.
Later that day, a friend of the alleged victim called the sheriff’s department and reported a sexual assault, the lawsuit says. Coyne’s alleged victim repeated the allegations in a meeting with investigators on Sept. 30, and she made a pretext phone call to Coyne as investigators listened in, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims investigators were “doubtful” about the woman’s report.
“During the course of that pretext call, Officer Coyne said he came to (alleged victim’s) home on Sept. 29, 2009, to have fun,” the lawsuit alleges.
Coyne was arrested Oct. 1 and a Mesa County judge later found probable cause for suspicion of first-degree sexual assault and burglary. Coyne’s alleged victim has said in a separate lawsuit she suffered a broken shoulder, fractured ribs and bruises, aside from other injuries consistent with sexual assault.
The woman has her own pending federal lawsuit against Camper, former Chief Bill Gardner, the police department and others inside the department.