Friday, July 17, 2015

CSPD officer under investigation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 11:54 AM

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Officer Tyler Walker
is under investigation by the Colorado Springs Police Department's internal affairs division, and possibly by the District Attorney's Office for his takedown of Alexis Acker in November 2013.

As first reported by KKTV and confirmed by the Independent, the internal affairs division opened an investigation in July 2014, three months after the city received a notice of claim letter from Acker's attorney, Shimon Kohn, seeking $500,000 for injuries she sustained in the takedown at Memorial Hospital.

Which, by the way, has been viewed by 2.4 million people since the Indy posted the video to its website on Wednesday and now has gone transcontinental.


The Acker case was part of the Indy's "Full force" cover story that came out Wednesday.

Pending the IA investigation, Walker is on patrol duty, says police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley

So let's look at how the CSPD investigates its own: Under General Order 1610, the department can initiate either a formal or informal action. A formal action requires a structured process through the chain of command that can result in serious discipline, including a written reprimand, suspension, demotion, reduction in pay or dismissal from the department. An informal action refers to a "broad range of supervisory tools, such as training, coaching, encouragement and information discussion." Discipline can include training, verbal counseling and a two-year written reprimand that's later purged from a file if the officer keeps his or her nose clean during that period.

This investigation is a Level 2, which is:
A more formal and structured investigation into allegations of more serious violations, for which discipline in excess of what is available in a Level I Investigation is probable, if sustained. Because of their complexity, Level Two cases will generally be indexed and placed into a formal investigative report folder, red for chain of command and blue for Internal Affairs, prior to being sent out of the unit where they were investigated. A limited number of level two cases that are not complex, and do not contain extensive documentation, may be forwarded without formal indexing or folder, with the approval of the division commander. At the point in a Level Two investigation where it can be reasonably determined that an employee may have violated Department/City policy, the employee may exercise his/her rights to an advisor...
We can't find any reference to what circumstances could lead to an officer being relieved of duty, except this:
Any supervisor has the authority to impose emergency relief from duty for an employee, until the next business day, when it appears that such action is in the best interests of the department.
Whenever the employee is relieved from duty, the supervisor will immediately notify the employee's Bureau Chief and the Internal Affairs Commanding Officer of the details surrounding the emergency relief.

Another CSPD general order allows for discipline of an officer's supervisor:
The Chief of Police shall institute an investigation when misconduct is attributable to inefficient or ineffective supervision. The involved command or supervisory employee shall be subject to discipline by the Chief of Police in compliance with the Civil Service Rules, as applicable.
Walker's supervisor was Sgt. Mary Walsh, who wrote in her report that Walker "rolled her [Acker] out of the chair to the floor" — his "only means to control her." No word on whether she, too, is being investigated, except Buckley says in an email, "This is still an active investigation."

In addition, police policies on the disciplinary and appeal process state, "Timely and appropriate disciplinary action is in the best interest of the Department and the involved employee."

As for whether Walker also is being eyed for criminal charges, we asked District Attorney Dan May in a July 2 interview about the Acker case. “I’ve been told about it. I’m aware of that situation," he said. "I’m not sure I’m able to speak on it right now.”

If an officer is charged with a felony, the CSPD may place the the officer on administrative leave without pay, but that call is left to the deputy chief in the officer's chain of command.

The Acker case is coming upon its second anniversary this fall. Walker is still under investigation. Not so timely, it would seem.

All the while, Walker has been on duty. We found a policy that states, "When the conduct is such that a Commanding Officer or supervisor believes the employee must be relieved from his/her current duty assignment," certain procedures must be followed. We couldn't find a reference that allows someone to remain on duty during an IA investigation stemming from circumstances like we have in this case.

Mayor John Suthers issued a statement Wednesday saying he supports the CSPD officers, who are well trained.

Meanwhile, the daily newspaper is attributing the story on the web to its so-called news partner KKTV, which made a move to get the story only after the Indy published its piece. So far, the daily's own staff hasn't produced a word on the story, but rather it relied on the Associated Press to recap the video and story in its Friday edition.

So while the video circulates around the world, the daily newspaper, which supposedly covers the city in which the incident occurred, appears to be ignoring the story.

Why?

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