12 July 2011

Brighton Police Covered For Wife Beating Fireman

Randy Cleveland, is a "Brighton[, Colorado] firefighter faces more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, after allegations of years of attacks on his wife."

Cleveland is an abusive husband straight from central casting. He physically and emotionally harms his wife, he sweet talks police officers into doing nothing out of respect for his position as a firefighter, he stalks his wife in a motel where she had fled from him, he threatens to kill puppies.

Police took no action in response to at least three 911 incidents when they responded to the house.

[The wife] called Brighton police last Oct. 15. That day, she alleged, arriving officers "high-fived" Cleveland, and after she told the officers that the abuse that day was verbal, not physical, they decided to have her stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. No charges were filed.

The first contact that was made with the Adams County DA's office also trivialized the allegations. Eventually, an uninvolved prosecutor in the DA's office learned of the case from the wife at church, intervened, and managed to get the case turned over to Boulder's District Attorney acting as a special prosecutor, who is prosecuting the case vigorously.

Brighton police initially took the case to the Adams County district attorney's office, but no charges were filed then either. According to District Attorney Don Quick, the investigating Brighton officer portrayed the allegations as a situation of "he said, she said."

"At the time, there were not injuries apparent or made note of by the officers," Quick said.

Later, however, the woman told another of his prosecutors about the abuse during a conversation at church, and Quick asked Garnett's office to investigate.

A Boulder investigator took over the case May 11, and eight days later a magistrate judge signed an arrest warrant for Cleveland.

It is a little hard to tell if the Brighton police are solely at fault in this scenario, or if at least some deputy DA in the Adam's County DA are also at fault from the facts reported so far.

It bears all the marks of a police cover up, which John Bradley, the spokeman of the Brighton Police denies emphatically with about as much credibility as Gaddaffi's absurd broadcasts from Tripoli claiming that everything is peaceful and happy, and that he is in control.

Adams County has previous brought us instances of gross corruption in road contracts managed by the county commissioners, improperly adjustments of property assessments for contributors to the county assessor, and improper diversion of funds by the treasurer of the county's Democratic party organization. Adams County is a blue colar, Democratic leaning Northern suburb of Denver and Brighton is the fast grown Levittown style suburb that is the county seat.

Still, Adams County is hardly exceptional. Corruption is bipartisan in Colorado. Republicans in Jefferson County (a middle class suburb west of Denver) have been a hotbed of questionable conduct and resulted in the prosecution of its treasurer for kickbacks (IIRC he was acquitted after a mistrial the first time around), Republicans in Araphahoe County brought us neopotistic, sex crazed Tracy Baker as Clerk and Recorder, and a DA who has been sanctioned by unethical conduct while in office by the state supreme court and made other negative headlines for questionable conduct like conviction incentives for prosecutors. The former Larimer County Republican Party chair was just arrested on a felony county related to management of their monies. The DA in Montrose County faces charges related to improper conduct towards his ex-girlfield that are being handled by a special prosecutor from the Attorney General's office, and their unqualified coroner set off political sparks by declaring a routine organ donation by a local hospital to be murder based on inaccurate information on the Internet. Castle Rock's police ignored urgent pleas from a women with a restraining order that produced a pile of dead bodies and a Supreme Court case establishing that police have no affirmative duty to try to protect anyone, even if state restraining order laws say so. This list is hardly exhaustive.

Keeping local government officials out of trouble is a never ending full time job.

The good news is that a judge, who owes nothing to local government because he is not an elected official and not appointed by local officials, eventually issued a restraining order in the case, and a special prosecutor (who may end up charging the bad cops as well as the abusive husband) was appointed based on a strong norm in Colorado for doing so in cases where there is a potential for local law enforcement officials to be at fault; the case involving the DA for Montrose similarly had a smooth hand off. Notably, in both cases, the investigation was handed off to a special prosecutor of the same political party as the DA taken off the case.

Since law enforcement is handled locally and the judiciary is part of state government, there are clearer heads at the state level to keep local corrupt officials in line.

The bad news is that the Brighton Chief of Police, like almost all law enforcement management types, has denied that his men did anything wrong, even when the evidence that they did is very convincing. He should have thrown the bad officers under the bus, immediately suspending them while an investigation was pending, and didn't. The city council and mayor and if there is one, a city manager, could step in and intervene, but so far, they haven't done so. Denver is still struggling to reach acceptable ways of handling cases of police misconduct and finally starting to make process after a decade or so of trying. Brighton apparently isn't there yet.

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