DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver police detective involved in a controversial 2004 shooting has been suspended from his job and is facing an internal affairs investigation for drinking during work hours.
CBS4 learned that Detective Ranjan Ford Jr. was recently placed on leave after admitting he had been drinking when he was supposed to be working.
“My deal is I self-reported,” Ford told CBS4. “I told them I needed help for my drinking.”
Ford declined to say more, but is the latest Denver police officer facing department discipline or legal troubles from an incident stemming from alcohol use. Several sources familiar with the Ford case say that while he was recently “on the clock,” Ford was inebriated, a description Ford did not dispute in a conversation Monday with CBS4.
In 2004, Ford shot and killed Frank Lobato who Ford believed was armed. Police had been searching for a domestic violence suspect. It turned out Lobato was holding a soda can and was unarmed. Ford was suspended for 90 days for killing Lobato.
It’s unclear how long the current internal affairs investigation might take into Ford drinking on the job.
The news of the Ford suspension comes just days after Denver Police Chief Robert White initiated a review of alcohol abuse among DPD officers following a series of high profile arrests involving DPD officers. White said the common denominator in most cases was booze.
“We’ve had several incidents involving officers involved in off-duty activity that doesn’t reflect well on them or reflect well on the police department,” said White.
White said he has designated several members of the department to look into the spate of alcohol related incidents. White has said officers need to feel comfortable self-reporting their own alcohol problems, or suspected alcohol abuse on the part of coworkers.
“Hand-in-hand with that, we have to create an environment where coworkers feel comfortable in reporting an officer in crisis early on,” White said.
CBS4 has found that in the case of Officer Chris Pinder there were numerous signs of alcohol problems for years dating from Pinder’s days in the police academy. Most recently, Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Pinder last Nov. 4 for DUI. He is scheduled to go on trial later this month on that DUI charge.
Jefferson County deputies say they found Pinder slumped over in the front driver seat of his Jeep with the engine running. They say Pinder was passed out and did not respond when deputies initially tried to wake him up. When he did come around, deputies say Pinder initially denied drinking but later said he had a couple of drinks at his girlfriend’s house.
As deputies arrested Pinder for DUI, Pinder said, “Bro, I’m a cop,” according to police reports. Pinder asked deputies if they had noticed a blue line insignia on his Jeep “telling you that I was a cop?”
A Jefferson County deputy reported that as he was transporting Pinder, the DPD officer asked “why he did not just call a family member or friend to come and get him. Deputy Clark stated that … Officer Pinder then told Deputy Clark that if he were in a stolen vehicle in Denver, ‘under the same circumstances,’ Officer Pinder ‘would not have made contact with (Deputy Clark), let alone arrest (Deputy Clark).’ “
A blood alcohol test on Pinder showed his blood alcohol content to be .241, more than three times the legal limit for DUI. On April 9, the Denver Police Department fired Pinder for the DUI, soliciting preferential treatment, and two other rule violations. Pinder is appealing his dismissal, according to Denver’s Department of Safety.
According to an internal investigation, prior to the Jefferson County DUI, Pinder had three significant infractions within the past seven years, all involving alcohol abuse. In 2007, when he was in the police academy, Pinder was suspended for five days without pay after being involved in an altercation at a bar. In 2012, in another alcohol related incident, the department suspended Pinder for 42 days without pay.
According to the department, he drank to excess, and in a drunken stupor, positioned himself on a sidewalk and displayed an offensive sign that maligned the homeless. He then had a physical confrontation with a citizen. A police report says patrons at a nearby restaurant who watched Pinder in action “were appalled when they learned that Officer Pinder worked for the department.”
A month later, the department says Pinder was again suspended for 42 days after he called in sick. A report on that incident said, “Officer Pinder was not sick but was inebriated at the time and admitted that he had been out drinking heavily hours before he was scheduled to work.”
Another DPD Officer, Douglas Moran, recently pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. On Jan. 18, a Colorado State Patrol trooper stopped the off-duty Denver officer. Moran admitted he had been drinking and a breath test showed his BAC at .121. On April 25, Moran pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Driving While Impaired. In May, the department suspended Moran for 10 days without pay. Moran’s attorney, Bradley Lozow, declined to discuss the case.
Another DPD officer, Curtis Richter, was arrested by Aurora police last November for DUI and has yet to go on trial or be disciplined by the department. Richter’s lawyer, Molly Jansen, declined to comment on the case when contacted Monday by CBS4.
“We do have the responsibility to address what appears to be a recent increase in alcohol abuse by some of our employees,” said Chief White.
White said he has directed members of the department to examine what’s been going on and what can be done about it.
“This is something that is not just in Denver,” said White.