DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver Police Department is investigating interim Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins following accusations he set free a man who was in custody on an active misdemeanor assault warrant. The news comes just days after Diggins had to apologize for what he called “inappropriate” comments made during a telephone call he didn’t know was being recorded.

CBS4 learned that on Sept. 11, Denver Sheriff’s deputies took into custody Occupy Denver protester Eric Brandt on an active misdemeanor assault warrant stemming from an incident September 7 in which Brandt allegedly bit a security guard. On Sept. 11, Denver Sheriff’s deputies spotted Brandt inside a bathroom at Denver’s City County building and took him into custody.

“There were several and they said we need to take you into custody and I said very well,” Brandt told CBS4.

He said the deputies were polite, professional and showed him the active Denver Police Department warrant for his arrest. But Brandt says a few minutes later, Diggins appeared and summoned several deputies away. Moments later, Brandt says one of the deputies told him he was “free to go.”

Eric Brandt (credit: Denver District Attorney's Office)

Eric Brandt (credit: Denver District Attorney’s Office)

“I was utterly stunned,” said Brandt. “Stunned, floored,” repeated Brandt who has been arrested often by Denver authorities.

Brandt said he spoke to Diggins who told him,”It smells funny. I’m not allowing them to arrest you in my building. I don’t want anything to do with it.”

According to Brandt, Diggins told him he could go wherever he wanted but was no longer in custody.

CBS4 contacted Diggins who referred the call to his communications director, Simon Crittle, who then referred CBS4 to the Manager of Safety’s Office. Daelene Mix, Communications Director for the Department of Public Safety would only say that the allegation against Diggins came from the Independent Monitor’s office.

”Because the subject Officer is Sheriff Diggins, Executive Director Stephanie O’Malley immediately advanced the allegation to the Denver Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation, which is ongoing at this time,” said Mix.

Elias Diggins (credit: Denver Sheriff)

Elias Diggins (credit: Denver Sheriff)

Brandt told CBS4 that after Diggins allowed him to leave, he left the building and attempted to get away, but Denver police officers spotted him outside the City County building and immediately arrested him.

“When they called my name I put my hands in the air,” said Brandt.

He was returned to the Denver jail where he later posted $1,500 bond for the assault case and was released. He is scheduled to be back in court October 20.

Diggins could be exonerated of any wrongdoing, could face internal department discipline or could conceivably face criminal charges.
Lynn Kimbrough, a spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney, told CBS4 her office “is aware of the investigation but it has not yet been presented to the DA’s Office for review.”

Diggins has faced a bumpy road recently. Last week, during a personnel hearing, a tape was played by a former Denver sheriff’s commander who had been fired.

In the taped phone conversation, Diggins told the former commander, Frank Gale, he was fired “so they have a trophy they can hang on their wall. That’s all they care about.”

Fmr. Denver Sheriff Frank Gale speaks with CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass (credit: CBS)

Fmr. Denver Sheriff Frank Gale speaks with CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass (credit: CBS)

Diggins later apologized for those comments saying they were “inappropriate as a leader of this department. I have apologized to Mayor Hancock, Executive Director O’Malley, and now, I want to apologize to our community.”

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