Denver Sheriff Commanders Face Hearings In Preferential Treatment Investigation

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Two top commanders at the Denver Sheriff Department face disciplinary hearings Thursday afternoon into how they handled the jailing last September of Jamie Webb, granddaughter of former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and niece of Denver’s Manager of Safety, Stephanie O’Malley.

CBS4 learned the “pre- disciplinary” hearings for Captain Phazaria Koonce and Chief Gary Wilson are set for Thursday afternoon. Both have been told the internal affairs investigation found potential conduct violations in how they handled the Webb case.

jamie webb Denver Sheriff Commanders Face Hearings In Preferential Treatment Investigation

Jamie Webb (credit: Denver Sheriffs Department)

The hearings follow an internal affairs investigation into how jail staff members handled the arrest of Jamie Webb, 29, on Sept. 8, 2016. Webb was booked into the jail that morning on a charge of destruction of private property. She was accused of causing about $150 worth of damage to a friend’s car during an argument over a boyfriend.

CBS4 has learned that Jamie Webb was brought to the jail by community activist Alvertis Simmons, who contacted Chief Wilson in advance of bringing Webb to the downtown Denver detention center.

Simmons acknowledges being friendly with the entire Webb family but in a phone conversation Thursday, told CBS4, “I was doing my civic duty. Gary Wilson did nothing wrong. There was no preferential treatment. It just so happens I know people”.

gary wilson Denver Sheriff Commanders Face Hearings In Preferential Treatment Investigation

Former Sheriff Gary Wilson (credit: CBS)

Simmons said he has known Jamie Webb her entire life and when he learned she had an outstanding warrant, he offered to take her to the jail to address the warrant. He said nobody asked him to help her out.

“Nobody asked me to do anything,” said Simmons. “We did nothing wrong. She spent the night in jail. She got no preferential treatment.”

O’Malley, Jamie Webb’s aunt, oversees the sheriff, police and fire departments. From the outset, she has maintained she did not try to influence her niece’s case. When she learned her niece was in jail, she emailed Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman at 2:07 pm, writing, “a relative of mine is in the custody of the Denver Sheriff’s Department. I direct you to treat this matter in accordance with the manner and approach that you and your department would with any other inmate in your care and custody.”

Six minutes later, Firman emailed back, “I have instructed Sheriffs Department staff that there is to be no differential treatment whatsoever.”

Some Denver sheriffs deputies — who asked their names not be used for fear of retaliation and because they were not authorized to speak on the issue — say the concern is what was attempted by jail administrators prior to O’Malley’s afternoon email.

Simon Crittle, a spokesman for the Denver Sheriff’s department, previously said the department was taking the matter seriously.

Daelene Mix, a spokesperson for the Department of Safety, said following Thursday’s hearings, Firman will make disciplinary recommendations to O’Malley.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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