Police finish Walker probe, withhold report


The Internal Affairs investigation of Officer Tyler Walker, who slammed Alexis Acker to the floor in the Memorial Hospital emergency room in November 2013, has been concluded. But the Colorado Springs Police Department is withholding the report.

Acker was injured when Walker slammed her to the floor.
  • Acker was injured when Walker slammed her to the floor.
"As this is an active civil case, I am unable to release any information at this time on the internal investigation," CSPD spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley says via email.

We first reported on the Acker incident on July 15 in our cover story, "Full Force."

The Walker investigation began in July 2014, three months after Acker's attorney threatened the city with a lawsuit, and nine months after the incident. That lawsuit was filed in late July.

We asked about Walker's status in mid-July and were told that "he is on regular duty."

About two weeks later, we asked the CSPD about the investigation and for a photograph of Walker and were told by Buckley, "Due to Officer Walker's current assignment I am unable to release a photograph of him." 

So it seems the public won't know for awhile what the outcome of the IA investigation was.

We recently asked Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, about when IA files can and can't be released. He cited a court case, Freedom Colorado Information v. El Paso County Sheriff’s Dept. (2008), and noted that records custodians are to conduct a balancing test in determining whether disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest.” That test means weighing "1) the public interest in the investigation; 2) the private interest or danger of adverse consequences to the public and 3) whether disclosure of redacted information would satisfy statutory objectives of disclosure and address privacy concerns," Roberts says via email.

He also writes: 
The redaction aspect of the Freedom case was significant. The Court stressed that the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act “favors making the record available for inspection” and noted that “the General Assembly has underscored its preference for disclosure of criminal justice records subject to the sound discretion of the custodian…” The Court also said the custodian “should redact sparingly to promote the CCJRA’s preference for public disclosure.”

In the El Paso case, the Court directed the sheriff to exercise his discretion in determining what portion of the IA files should be disclosed and the sheriff did release a redacted version of the requested file.

More recently, in Romero v. City of Fountain (2011), the Court of Appeals found that the public interest is served by disclosure of IA files: “The district court found that where an officer was found “rightly or wrongly, to have committed, at the very least, a rule violation which is potentially a serious misuse of the office,” the investigation reflects a potentially serious abuse of police officer power and responsibilities. It concluded that this is the kind of information the public would have the right to know, given that the investigation was concluded and resulted in Romero’s resignation from the police force. We agree that a lengthy delay of the disclosure of such information while this case makes its way through the appellate process may disserve the public interest.”

Also on this topic: A Denver District Court judge came down hard on the Denver department of public safety recently for its blanket policy of denying request for IA files until all matters are completely resolved: http://coloradofoic.org/judge-blasts-denver-safetys-blanket-policy-of-denying-requests-for-internal-affairs-records/
We've asked the Police Department for Walker's current status but haven't heard back. Check back for an update.

During a question period with Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Pete Carey, we asked how many officers had been disciplined for excessive force in the previous four years. He couldn't give us a specific answer, which we thought was odd. Take a closer look at some specific cases involving local police and their use of force against citizens. http://ow.ly/PCgoy

Posted by Colorado Springs Independent on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

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