Ex-Denver Sheriff Department Employee Says He Refused To Destroy Tape Showing Alleged Inmate Abuse

A former Denver Sheriff Department employee says he was fired after he refused to destroy evidence of possible inmate abuse.

Brent Miller said he was working for the sheriff's department as a civilian internal affairs investigator last month when he was asked to look into a complaint filed by personnel at Denver Health Medical Center, according to CBS Denver.

Miller said the complaint alleged that inmate Christopher Colbruno defecated in his clothing on the way to the medical center. Deputies allegedly stripped him naked and made him walk through the hospital wearing only handcuffs. The incident took place on May 5.

On May 11, Miller went to the medical center and got a copy of security camera tape that showed Colbruno in the hospital.

Miller said when he returned to the sheriff's office, Captain Paul Ortega -- who Miller maintains was acting on orders from Sheriff Elias Diggins -- told him to destroy the tape. Miller says he refused and was fired the next day.

In a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Denver's executive director of public safety, Stephanie O’Malley, denied that Miller was let go because he refused to destroy evidence.

"I have directed the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Denver Police Department to investigate allegations of misconduct by command officers in the Denver Sheriff Department," the statement said. "This investigation was initiated immediately after I learned of the allegations and their nature. It is inappropriate for me to disclose or verify any part of that investigation until it is complete and I have made a determination regarding its outcome. 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.”

Now, Miller is suing the department, and his lawyer, Donald Sisson, disputed the claim his client was fired for "performance issues."

"I think it’s frivolous and groundless and if that’s true, then nobody put him on notice of any issues," Sisson told HuffPost. "He’s never been told he had performance-related issues except for now."

Sisson said his client is seeking back pay, punitive damages and the cost of attorneys' fees. An exact dollar amount has not been determined.



2014 Police Killings