Denver Ex-Cop Says He Was Fired for Refusing to Destroy Video Evidence of Abuse of Inmate

A former Denver internal affairs investigator says he was fired after refusing to destroy video evidence showing cops subjecting an inmate to inhumane treatment, CBS Denver reports.


Brent Miller, who worked for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 26 years before retiring, took a job with the Denver Sheriff Department as a civilian internal affairs investigator to help clear up a backlog of internal affairs cases. One of the cases involved complaints by inmate Christopher Colbruno. Sheriff’s deputies were transporting Colbruno to the Denver Health Medical Center when he defecated on himself at some point. Deputies removed his clothing before he entered the hospital. He was handcuffed but was walked through the hallways naked. Hospital staff believed Colbruno was subjected to inhumane treatment and filed a complaint with the Denver Sheriff’s Department.

According to reports, Miller and another investigator obtained video of the incident on May 11. He was soon approached by Captain Paul Ortega, who leads the Sheriff Department’s internal affairs bureau, and asked if he uploaded the video yet. Miller said he didn’t.

“(Ortega) told me don’t upload it they’re making it go away,” Miller told CBS Denver. “Who is they? He said the sheriff then told me to get rid of the video. Do not upload it get rid of the video and I immediately told him that’s not ethical to get rid of evidence in a case.”

Ortega, according to Miller’s account, said that he agreed but, “That’s the way it is.”

Miller said he refused to destroy the tape and gave it to another investigator so that it would not be destroyed. On May 12, he said Ortega requested a meeting in his office.

“I was told I was being terminated by the Denver Sheriff Department because I was too opinionated and they wanted to go in a different direction,” said Miller.

Stephanie O’Malley, Denver Executive Director of Safety, said that Miller’s allegations are being investigated. She didn’t get into the specifics of the investigation but did say that, “I am able to verify that Senior Investigator Miller did not pass his employment probation with the City of Denver due to performance issues unrelated to the allegations referenced above.”

Miller, however, says he was always told that he did good work and no one complained about him. He has hired an attorney through whom he plans to sue the Denver Sheriff Department because he was fired as retaliation for exercising his first amendment rights.

Donald Sisson, his lawyer, said there is certainly a connection between his client refusing to destroy a video tape and being fired the next day.

Miller just wants to expose wants going on and stand up for what’s right.

“I believe I was fired because I stood up to what I perceived to be unethical behavior and corruption by the Denver Sheriff’s Department and the Manager of Safety’s Office,” said Miller. “I expressed those opinions that what they were doing was unethical, improper and corrupt and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I cannot be part of losing evidence or getting rid of evidence or letting those collusions of corruption go on within the city. I don’t want to be a part of that.”

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