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Scandals Rock Denver Sheriff's Department

by Christopher Zoukis

In a department that is riddled with scandals, so many that Sheriff Gary Wilson resigned on Monday, July 21, Denver Sheriff's Department Division Chief Elias Diggins was appointed in his place on a temporary basis.

Adding to Denver's woes, it was later revealed that Diggins has a criminal record.

There have been numerous incidents when Denver Sheriff's Department employees have been accused of misconduct.  Deputy Brad Lovingier was caught on video slamming a handcuffed inmate, Anthony Waller, into a wall al a court hearing without provocation.

In April 2013, Deputy Matthew Andrews assisted prisoner Felix Trujillo's escape from Denver's new jail.  Deputy Andrews let Trujillo wear his hat and coat to walk out of the building.

In another case, the second highest ranking member of the Department, Michael Than, was said to have stolen 1,288 copies of Turbo Tax software from several Target stores, reselling them for more than $60,000 on eBay.

In a suit filed by former prisoner Jamal Hunter, it was alleged that Hunter had been attacked by other prisoners who burned his genitals with scalding water, allegedly because officers failed to protect him from other prisoners; he alleged that two deputies had attacked him as well.  The suit alleged porn, pot, and alcohol use by employees, and brutality among deputies at the jail.  And yet another knockout, Deputy Thomas Ford was captured on tape laying out a non-violent inmate with one punch on video.

Diggins himself was once charged with an attempt to influence a public official, which is a felony, and pled guilty to making a false auto crash report, as misdemeanor, when he lied to a judge about having insurance.  While he is temporarily running the department, his chances are very low that he will be hired permanently.

A spokesperson for the Manager of Safety said they were unsure if Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was aware of the arrest record when he appointed Diggins.

In the wake of Sheriff Wilson's reign, Hancock assured the public that the city will conduct a "top-down" review of the department that is stained by allegations of abuse and misconduct.  A national search is being conducted for a permanent Sheriff.