A veteran Denver sheriff’s deputy was fired and two other deputies suspended in October in separate disciplinary cases, according to reviews by the city’s public safety department.
Deputy Doug Gomez, who had been with the Denver Sheriff Department since Sept. 12, 2005, was fired on Oct. 15 for harassment of prisoners and commission of a deceptive act, according to public safety documents.
On Sept. 14, 2018, Gomez started a shift at a downtown Denver jail pod at 2 a.m., clapping on his arrival and using profanity at inmates who he awoke, according to a disciplinary record. During an internal affairs bureau investigation of the incident, Gomez adamantly denied using profanity. A video review of the incident, however, showed he did.
Before the 2 a.m. disturbance, inmates had clapped and cheered as Gomez left work one day, according to the review.
“This is clearly an act of retaliation and harassment on the part of Deputy Gomez,” according to the review. “He was getting back at the inmates for clapping as he left the pod the prior afternoon.”
Compounding the incident was Gomez’s denial of the situation. Gomez claimed his clapping was “freedom of expression” and that he was happy to arrive at work.
“There is a preponderance of evidence to indicate that Deputy Gomez knowingly departed from truth during his (internal affairs) interview when asked if he cursed at the inmates,” the review said.
Gomez had a prior disciplinary action — a two-day suspension — in March 2016. Using a “disciplinary matrix,” considering the prior suspension as well as the later incident, Gomez was fired.
“Deputy Gomez combining his clapping and cursing at inmates at 2 a.m. displayed a lack of the integrity, ethics, character, or fitness to hold the position of Denver deputy sheriff,” the review said. Gomez can appeal.
Deputy Aidan Abeyta-Martinez was suspended for 30 days — 240 hours — beginning Oct. 24 through Dec. 5, according to a case review. During the suspension Abeyta-Martinez can not wear the department uniform nor exercise any power or authority granted as a deputy.
Abeyta-Martinez, who has been with the department since Dec. 5, 2016, was suspended for excessive force, according to the case review.
On July 27, Abeyta-Martinez was escorting an inmate from a medical cell in the downtown jail to a courtroom when a scuffle ensued. Abeyta-Martinez “dragged” the inmate instead of using a “proper hold under his shoulders,” the review found.
“The probability of injury was increased unnecessarily when Deputy Abeyta-Martinez started dragging” the inmate, according to the review. Abeyta-Martinez’s action was contrary to training he has received.
Furthermore, Abeyta-Martinez used knee strikes when the inmate was back in a cell in a prone position and “under control” of two other deputies, the review said.
“Deputy Abeyta-Martinez has the authority to carry out his duties, which includes the authority to use appropriate force when it is reasonable and necessary to do so,” the review said. “However, ‘reasonable and necessary’ means he has the authority to use the least amount of force necessary to accomplish a legitimate detention-related function.”
Deputy Rhonda Casados agreed to accept a penalty set out in a disciplinary letter and was suspended for 10 days, a total of 80 hours, according to a case review.
Casados’ suspension, for excessive force, began on Oct. 28 and runs through Nov. 7, the document said. She has been with the department since Sept. 12, 2005. Casados was also inaccurate in reporting the incident.
On April 16, Casados hit an inmate and pulled her hair after the inmate threw liquid from a cup into the deputy’s face. “The general nature of the misconduct was the fact that Deputy Casados used inappropriate force” on an inmate “when it was not justified,” the review said. “The misconduct was contrary to the guiding principles of the department.”