Officer Fired After He Refused To Destroy Video Tape of Abuse

Cover-Up, Police Brutality


An internal investigation into the Denver Sheriff Department, and its interim head Elias Diggins is now underway. The captain in charge of the Denver Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also in the spotlight of the investigation after one internal affairs investigator blew the whistle on all of them.

That investigator says he was specifically ordered to destroy a video that documented inmate abuse. Specifically, the tape showed an inmate being humiliated and degraded in a way that was unquestionably illegal.

“This is the definition of corruption,” Brent Miller said. He’s the whistleblower who came clean about this abuse.

Miller says the sheriffs department actually fired him for refusing to destroy the tape.

He had been employed by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office for almost 26 years.

After that, he officially retired and agreed to go work for the Denver Sheriff Department as a civilian internal affairs investigator.

His hope was to “clear up a backlog of internal affairs cases,” according to local CBS4.

“It was a huge challenge. I loved it and looked forward to going to work every day,” Miller said.

Miller said that part of what he was assigned to investigate was claims of abuse made by jail inmate Christopher Colbruno.

Then, earlier this month, another case involving Colbruno came across his desk.

In that case, Sheriff’s deputies had been transporting Colbruno to Denver Health Medical Center for medical attention.

During transport, Colbruno defecated on himself because the deputies would not allow him to use the restroom anywhere.

Once they got to the hospital, deputies removed Colbruno’s clothing and marched through hospital hallways completely naked.

Employees at the Denver Health Medical Center reported that Colbruno “had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment.” They filed a complaint with the Denver Sheriff Department, which was assigned to Miller.

Miller obtained a surveillance videotape of this abuse from the hospital. But when he returned to his office with the tape, Miller was ordered by Captain Paul Ortega, to destroy the tape.

“He asked me if I had uploaded this video yet and I told him I had not and told me, good. Don’t do that because they’re making that go away, it’s not going to be a case anymore.’”

“He told me don’t upload it they’re making it go away. 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.”

Captain Ortega responded: “That’s the way it is.”

Miller instead gave the tape to another investigator for safekeeping. The next day, he was fired.

“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,” Miller recalled.

Local CBS4 obtained the notice of termination, signed by Sheriff Elias Diggins. That’s who Ortega said told him to make sure the tape was destroyed.

“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,” Miller continued.

“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 collisions of corruption go on within the city. I don’t want to be a part of that.”

Stephanie O’Malley, Denver Executive Director of Safety released the follow statement: “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. This investigation was initiated immediately after I learned of the allegations and their nature.”

Attorney Donald Sisson explained “We do believe there is evidence to corroborate what happened here. We think there is ample evidence that will prove Brent Miller’s case.”

“I want the people to really know what’s going on,” Miller said in an interview with CBS4. “I just want things to be honest and fair and that’s the way Denver needs to do business.”

Watch the report from local CBS4 below and help SPREAD THE WORD if you believe Miller did the right thing!

(Article by Reagan Ali)

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