DENVER (CBS4) – Police typically use arrest affidavits to simply state the circumstances surrounding an arrest. Last week, a Denver police officer used an arrest affidavit to warn the court not to give a defendant bail.
Robert Avila had been arrested three times in 24 hours. While his initial charges weren’t felonies, officers described him as erratic, incoherent and escalating, but the judges twice released him on a personal recognizance bond, which meant he just had to promise to return for his next court appearance.
Avila’s first arrest came on Oct. 25 just after 10 p.m. Police were called to an apartment building where a resident said a man had kicked in his front door and was inside his apartment.
Police arrested Avila, who was jailed, charged and released on a PR bond. Thirteen hours later, police were called to the Marriot hotel in downtown Denver. They say Avila was refusing to leave and saying things that didn’t make sense.
Once again, he was arrested, jailed, charged and released on a PR bond. Nine hours later, police got a third call. This time, they say, Avila broke into a woman’s apartment and she locked herself in her bedroom in fear. Police say Avila tried to escape when they arrested him and dragged an officer 30 feet down a hallway.
“We are seeing too many cases like this,” said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen. “This is part and parcel to the challenge that we continue to see where individuals that are involved in multiple crimes are being released out onto our street without supervision, without adequate support.”
A CBS4 investigation found 4,000 people charged with felonies, many of them violent felonies, are being released from Denver County Court on a PR, $1 or $2 bond.
“Someone is going to get seriously hurt, or lose their lives, and possibly him,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd.
He says, in the case of Avila, Denver’s criminal justice system failed.
“You’re not going to get an argument here, Shaun. I recognize the system is not working the way you and I and everyday citizens expect it to work.”
In the probable cause statement for Avila’s third arrest in 24 hours, the officer wrote, “It is my belief as a Denver police officer that if the defendant is offered bail, he will continue to victimize citizens in Denver.”
The officer said Avila had an extensive criminal history in another state including a violent assault. The judge set bond at $10,000.
“That victim should never have been traumatized the way they were had our system been working the right way,” Pazen said.
Hancock says he’s been meeting with the district attorney and public safety manager about the high number of PR bonds in Denver District Court, especially in violent felony cases. He says ultimately change will need to come at the Colorado State Capitol.