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DPD Cop-On-Cop Violence May Lead To Charges

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Brian Maass By Brian Maass
CBS4 Investigates
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DENVER (CBS4) – A wild, off-duty brawl between two Denver police officers and their wives — including lurid details of “swinging” and wife swapping, booze and a gun being pulled — may lead to criminal charges against at least one officer and his wife, according to information gathered during a CBS4 Investigation.

Michelle Yi, a spokesperson for the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors are reviewing the case to see if criminal charges are appropriate.

“We are looking at the case and should have a decision soon,” Yi told CBS4.

She declined further comment about the investigation.

But according to a police report obtained by CBS4, Denver Police Officers Jeremy Ownbey and his wife Jamie went to the Aurora home of fellow Denver Officer Steve Sloan and his wife, Stephanie, on the evening of May 19.

The officers are best friends, going through the police academy together in 2006 and vacationing together. So close, according to the police report, that they have engaged in “swinging.”

When officers interviewed Jamie Ownbey, according to the report, “Jamie stated she, Jeremy and Steven have been involved with swinging (amongst themselves) and Steven would like Stephanie (Sloan) to join but she (Stephanie) will not. I asked Jamie (Ownbey) if she had ever been personally intimate with Steven (Sloan), she stated ‘yes, during a swing session with Steven and his ex-wife years ago.’ Jamie further stated she also participated in two swing sessions with Steven and Jeremy, the most recent was approximately four years ago.”

Police say they asked about the intimate relationship between the two couples to see if that might be what triggered the May 19 fight.

Sometime during a liquor-filled evening the couples ended up in an all-out donnybrook, with the women allegedly punching each other, the men engaged in a full on brawl, and ultimately at least one gun pulled.

“Quite a party,” said Frank Fania, an Aurora police spokesman whose agency is now investigating the case.

Ownbey and his wife left the house after the fight and before Aurora police arrived, but Jeremy Ownbey later told Aurora investigators the fisticuffs eventually gave way to gunplay.

“Steve pointed the gun at him and said to get out of the house or he would kill him,” Ownbey related to investigators.

Ownbey told investigators he felt he was in danger of being shot.

Officer Sloan told investigators of the evening, “He then started to fight with Jeremy with both of them throwing punches at each other and he admitted to not winning the fight and and after being punched numerous times in the head he felt as if he was going to lose consciousness.”

Officer Sloan went on to tell investigators “he went to get his gun from his truck because he was in fear for his safety and thought he was in danger. Steven stated he punched Jamie in the face for punching Stephanie, and Jamie fell to the ground. Jeremy punched Steven in the face for punching Jamie. Steven stated he then punched Jeremy,” according to the report.

Officer Sloan told investigators he never pointed the gun at his best friend but kept it at his side as he told his friends they need to leave.

Aurora police presented their case to the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office last Friday recommending charges be filed against Officer Ownbey and his wife.

As prosecutors try to sort out what happened and if anyone should face criminal charges, Aurora police admit they too made a serious mistake that night. After they arrived at the Sloan house and began their investigation Jeremy Ownbey drove back to the house, apparently to retrieve his cellphone. Police saw Ownbey drive up to the house. Although one officer reported “I observed that Jeremy also exhibited signs of intoxication,” Aurora police never bothered to check him for a possible DUI and in fact drove him and his car home. Another officer on scene wrote, “I asked him how much he had to drink and he related that he did not know, but that he was drunk.”

Fania told CBS4, “We made a bad decision. We wish we could do it over.”

Fania said his department has begun an internal investigation into why four Aurora officers failed to arrest the off-duty Denver officer for DUI. Fania said Aurora officers should have done roadside sobriety tests and cited Ownbey for DUI, but did not.

“It’s not routine,” said Fania. “It’s not our way of doing business.

Fania said, “At the end of the day it sounds like a poor decision on the part of the officers involved that night as far as not investigating the DUI more.”

CBS4 reached both the Sloans and the Ownbeys Wednesday afternoon and both couples said they did not want to comment on what happened.

Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Murray told CBS4, “Any time and officer is facing criminal charges in any jurisdictions we take that very seriously which is why we immediately placed the officers in a non-line assignment and launched an internal investigation.”

Both Sloan and Ownbey came on to the Denver Police Department in 2006.

One source familiar with the case said it was likely misdemeanor assault, trespassing and child neglect charges will be filed against the Ownbeys, who left their young children at home the night of May 19.

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