DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned Denver Police Chief Robert White has recommended the firing of veteran police Sgt. Benita Packard over her handling of the Jan. 25 DUI stop of former State Legislator Laura Kay Bradford.
“I’ve got nothing to say,” Packard told CBS4 Monday evening.
Packard has been with the Denver Police Department since 1982. But CBS4 also learned the department has now removed the sergeant from her current assignment in the face of possible termination.
Sources say White and DPD have recommended Packard be fired for her conduct in the Bradford case. However the recommendation now goes to Manager of Safety Alex Martinez, who has about two weeks to concur with or modify the disciplinary recommendation.
“There is an investigation and we are still in the process,” said Lt. Matt Murray, an aide to White.
Murray said White would not discuss the case until after its completion.
“It’s still in the process and there has been no final determination made. When there is we will let you know” he said.
Denver police officer Brian Klaus stopped Rep. Bradford in the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Street seven months ago after saying he observed her nearly hit a parked car. Klaus said Bradford smelled of alcohol and that she failed all aspects of a field sobriety test.
Bradford, a Republican from Grand Junction, initially admitted to drinking one glass of wine earlier in the evening, but she later admitted to Klaus drinking “three glasses of wine.”
Klaus then summoned a supervisor to the scene when he realized he was dealing with a state legislator. That supervisor was Packard.
During the internal police investigation, Officer Klaus wrote that Sgt. Packard told him “not to do a DUI short form, nor was I supposed to write on the traffic citation that she was intoxicated.”
Klaus said he was not comfortable with what Packard ordered him to do but he said he “kept my mouth shut.”
“Sgt. Packard informed me that a taxi was called and would be picking up the state rep,” wrote Klaus.
Police also found a loaded gun in the state representative’s car.
In his statement, Klaus wrote, “Sgt. Packard told me to keep the handgun part of the stop quiet and only we would know.”
Bradford was cited only for making an illegal lane change and careless driving. Denver police initially claimed Bradford was not cited for DUI due to her invoking an obscure portion of Colorado law that prevents the arrest of lawmakers if they are on the way to, or coming from, legislative work. But DPD later backpedaled on that story saying Bradford never invoked that clause and actually told officers she should be treated like any other citizen. All of which has led to the termination recommendation for Packard.
Nick Rogers with the Denver Police Protective Association was aware of the termination recommendation when contacted by CBS4 Monday evening.
“This case does not warrant termination, period,” Rogers said. “It warrants discipline but not termination. Common sense and the facts are very clear that termination is not an option in this case.”
Manager of Safety Alex Martinez now has about two weeks to approve the firing recommendation or modify it. He could lessen the disciplinary suggestion to a suspension or potentially a reduction in rank.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com